ch16

Psychology in Action

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Critical thinkers know what their attitudes are and how and why they acquired them. Understanding one's self is the first step toward self-control and self-improvement. To help your student's clarify their own attitudes, we offer the following exercise and Handout 16.1 - Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking Exercise 16.2 - Fostering Independent Thinking: Would You Have Obeyed Milgram's Experimenters? Have you always considered yourself an independent thinker? Perhaps even a bit of a nonconformist? But does the fact that 65 percent of Milgram's participants administered the maximum shock make you wonder just how well you know yourself? Experts in the field of critical thinking believe some destructive behavior results from not knowing how social forces influence behavior and from lack of practice in confronting authority figures (see Chaffee, 1992). To encourage your own independent thinking and increase your resistance to unethical manipulation by others, we have developed the following exercise. Instructor's Resource Guide                               Chapter 16                                             Page  252
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Handout 16.1 - Critical Thinking ATTITUDE FORMATION In the space next to each issue, place a number (1 to 5) that indicates your CURRENT attitude and your PAST attitude (five to ten years ago). 1 = Strongly support 2 = Mildly support 3 = Neutral 4 = Mildly oppose 5 = Strongly oppose CURRENT PAST Drinking and driving __________ __________ Gun control __________ __________ Abortion __________ __________ Smoking in public places __________ __________ Divorce __________ __________ 1. Circle the top three issues you currently feel most strongly about. Briefly state your attitudes toward each of these issues. How did these attitudes develop (classical conditioning, operant conditioning, social learning, self-perception, cognitive dissonance, etc.)? What important experiences or significant individuals influenced these attitudes? Can you identify the three components of each of your three attitudes (cognitive, affective, and behavioral)? 2. Now compare your CURRENT attitudes to those of your PAST. Which attitudes were the most subject to change? Why? On what issues were you most resistant to change? How would you explain this? 3. How might you use the persuasion principles discussed in this chapter to change another's attitude? (Consider the characteristics of the communicator, the message, and the audience.) Can you apply the same principles to changing your own attitudes? 4. Cognitive dissonance theory asserts that "changing behavior changes attitudes." Using this theory, how would you design a program to change an undesirable attitude (in yourself and others)? Instructor's Resource Guide                               Chapter 16                                             Page  253
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Part I Rank order the following three situations by placing a 1 next to the situation you believe is the most unacceptable form of social influence and a 3 by the least objectionable.
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