Chapter 12—Social Psychology
HOW DO ATTITUDES GUIDE BEHAVIOR?
We Form Attitudes through Experience and Socialization:
Opinions, beliefs, and feelings are called
In general, people develop negative attitudes about new objects more quickly than they do positive
attitudes. The mere exposure effect demonstrates that the more we are exposed to something, the more
likely we are to like it. Attitudes can be conditioned—advertisers take advantage of this phenomenon—
and are shaped through socialization—parents, teachers, peers, and so forth.
Discrepancies Lead to Dissonance:
Leon Festinger proposed that cognitive dissonance occurs when there
is a contradiction between two attitudes or between an attitude and a behavior. A basic assumption of
dissonance theory is that dissonance causes anxiety and tension and therefore motivates
people to reduce
the dissonance and relieve displeasure. Generally, people reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes or
behaviors; they sometimes also rationalize or trivialize the discrepancy. Postdecisional dissonance occurs
when forced to choose between two or three attractive options; once the choice is made, negative qualities
of the non-chosen options are emphasized. Researchers have found that people are likely to change their
attitudes as a result of dissonance and to provide justifications.
Attitudes Can Be Changed through
Dissonance is not the only possible factor in operation
when people change their attitudes. In the elaboration likelihood model, persuasion leads to attitude
change in two fundamental ways: the central route to persuasion—in which people pay attention to
arguments, consider all the information, and use rational cognitive processes—leads to strong attitudes
that last over time and are resistant to change; and the peripheral route to
persuasion— in which people
minimally process the message, as when a person decides to purchase a new type of bottled water because
an advertisement for it features his or her favorite movie star. Three critical factors influence the extent to
which a message is persuasive:
(who delivers it),
(what the message says), and
(who is processing the message).
Strong arguments that appeal to our emotions are the most persuasive.
HOW DO WE FORM OUR IMPRESSIONS OF OTHERS?
Nonverbal Actions and Expressions Affect Our Impressions:
First impressions are greatly influenced by
nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, walking style, and fidgeting. Facial expression,
especially eye contact, is one of the first things people notice. Interpreting facial expression may vary by
culture. Researchers have found that accurate judgments can be made based on only a few seconds of
observation, what is referred to as
thin slices of behavior.
Interestingly, happiness, hostility, anger, and
sexual orientation have been accurately predicted by observing a few seconds of how a person walks.
We Make Attributions about Others: