Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches

By Richard E. Petty; John T. Cacioppo | Go to book overview
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Verbal statements concerning one's future behavior (e.g., "The next pie I see, I will throw in Chuck's face") are called behavioral intentions, and they can be distinguished from the actual overt behaviors that a person performs ( Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975, 1981). Although we will discuss some general factors that affect the relationship between attitudes and behaviors in this chapter, a detailed discussion of the relationships among attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and behaviors is postponed until chapter 7.
When an attitude scale is called reliable, this means that the scale measures something consistently. Thus, the score obtained on one half of the scale should correlate highly with the other half of the scale (split-half reliability), and if there has been no real attitude change, a person should receive the same score on the scale on repeated testings (test-retest reliability).
One important implication of using an attitude scale with low reliability, however, is that it will be more difficult to detect a statistically significant difference between two groups whose true attitudes are different.
These problems can be overcome by separating the pretest from the posttest by a long interval or by embedding the crucial attitude measure in a series of other measures; but the longer the delay between pretest and posttest, the more likely that the subjects' attitudes will change from the pretest measure (thus invalidating it); and the longer the list of irrelevant attitude items in which the key item is embedded, the more likely extraneous factors (e.g., fatigue) are to influence the measure.


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