Attitude Structure and Function

Attitude Structure and Function

Attitude Structure and Function

Attitude Structure and Function

Synopsis

Utilizing "new wave" research including new psychological theories, new statistical techniques, and a stronger methodology, this collection unites a diversity of recent research perspectives on attitudes and the psychological functions of an attitude. The objective of the editors was to bring together the bits and pieces of validated data into one systematic and adequate set of general principles leading to the view of attitudes as predictions. As the volume reformulates old concepts, explores new angles, and seeks a relationship among various sub-areas, it also shows improvements in the sophistication of research designs and methodologies, the specifications of variables, and the precision in defining concepts.

Excerpt

Daniel Katz
University of Michigan

This volume returns to a central problem of social psychology but not in the
sense of Schlesinger's cycles of history. It is not just a revival of the issues of
yesteryear, though they are part of the story, as it is a new attack upon the structure and function of attitudes. It reformulates old concepts, explores new angles, seeks relationships among research findings from various subareas, digs deeper into the meaning of relevant psychological processes, and shows progress in the sophistication of research design and the specification of the variables concerned.

The concept of attitude has an interesting history as a broadly defined construct combining affect, conation, and belief intervening between stimulus and response. It was incorporated into social psychology by early writers including McDougall in his notion of sentiments and by Floyd Allport in his idea of predispositional sets to respond. in fact John B. Watson defined social psychology as the study of attitudes. the ambiguity of definition gave behaviorists a theoretical back door to admit mental processes and social meaning, on the one hand, and field theorists like Krech and Crutchfield to deal with relatively stable substructures in a dynamic field on the other. Thus attitude research burgeoned during the 1920s and 1930s and Murphy,Murphy, and Newcomb in their Experimental Social Psychology (1937) devoted some 157 pages and over 100 references to attitudes and their measurement. But attitude research did not maintain its momentum for two reasons. First, the many investigations produced few generalizable principles. Second, there was little to distinguish attitude from other concepts such as social conformity, stereotypes, habit strength, personality characteristics, schemata, sentiments, or values. There was no set of pro-

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