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social psych


An attitude is an evaluation of an bject of thought, they are not observable, relatively consistent but have multiple component and vary in terms of consciousness. Attitudes are important to study becasue of the influence they have on our behaviour, the predictive value they give and the way they shape our culture and social relations


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Reaction tendancy


Thoughts and beliefs


The emotional reactions


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Tripartitie model of attitudes

Attitudes have 4 main roles:- to help us avoid or achieve goals- help us explain or predict our environment- help form our self-identity- protect us from harm

Attitudes function to reduce cognitive dissonance and make us a more congruent person as they act as a motivator for change.

Katz's theory

cognitive dissonace

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Function of attitudes

Simply being familiar with something encorouges preferences simply due to mere exposure, this is shown frequenty in consumer studies


They can also be created or be reinforced through operant conditioning, if an attitude is positively reinforced by your social group for example you are less likely to change it, but a new attitude may be formed based on change due to negative reinforcement

Operant conditioning

Attitudes can be formed through association whether positive or negative, Olsen and Fazzio, 2001, showed this.

Classical conditioning

Attitude formation

Changing attitudes

According to the elaboration likelihood model there are two pathways through which people can change their attitudes. The more simple of the two is called the peripheral route, taking this is a mental short cut as it only relies on superficial cues

The central route however requires more elaboration as it involves scrutiny and evaluation. Which pathway is taken and whether a change can occur at all is dependant on several factors. Target factors are personal relevance, need for cognition, distraction, prior knowledge and the individuals personality. Whereas message factors are strength, uni vs bilateral, length and a need for closure