The idea for this volume began in informal discussions among the three editors at Ohio State University. We felt that the 1970s had brought a fundamental change to traditional work in social psychology on the problems of attitudes and persuasion. There seemed to be a shift in the problems being studied and the conceptual bases used to understand these new issues. Existing textbooks generally mirrored only the conceptual orientations that had been developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet contemporary research seemed less and less related to those traditional approaches.
We concluded that it would be useful at this point in the evolution of attitude research to try to identify the underlying commonalities that were emerging. Such an effort, although bound to be imperfect in some ways, should have several desirable effects. It should provide students with a textbook that does more than convey past history. It should bring coherence to their reading of contemporary attitude research as well as present them with the more enduring features of the earlier conceptual approaches. For active researchers, this volume should increase their awareness of converging lines of research and further encourage them to break away from the traditional research pathways.
Edited volumes on attitude change have historically played an important role through the education of students and guidance of subsequent research. Previously, the Hovland volumes (e.g., Hovland & Janis, 1959; Hovland, Luchins, Mandell, Campbell, Brock, McGuire, Feierabend, & Anderson, 1957) represented well the emergence of "attitude change" as an empirical science in the 1950s, and were instrumental in leading the field into the 1960s. In the late 1960s, the various volumes on consistency motives (e.g., Abelson, Aronson, McGuire, Newcomb, Rosenberg, & Tannenbaum, 1968; Feldman, 1966) repre