Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Power of Affect and Cognition in Predicting Group Attitudes toward Supervisors

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Power of Affect and Cognition in Predicting Group Attitudes toward Supervisors

Article excerpt

Interest in the nature of attitudes dates back to the inception of social psychology. One theoretical perspective indicates that attitudes derive from affect and cognition (Eagly & Chaiken, 1995). Affect refers to the positive or negative feelings concerning the attitude objects, whereas cognition relates to the beliefs or thoughts about the attitude objects (Schleicher, Watt, & Greguras, 2004). Understanding the power of affect and cognition in predicting attitudes can help shape more effective interventions to influence these attitudes (Esses & Dovidio, 2002). Therefore, in this study, I identified the supervised groups' affect and cognition associated with their supervisors to examine the contribution of each in predicting group attitudes.

It has been shown in a number of previous studies that affect was a stronger predictor of attitudes than cognition in a variety of attitude domains (Kim & Morris, 2007; Porter & Diefenbach, 2009), especially in intergroup contexts (Jussim, Nelson, Manis, & Soffin, 1995; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2008). In contrast, other researchers have shown that cognition predicted attitudes more strongly than affect. Eagly and Mladinic (1989), examined the structure of gender attitudes toward women and men, and Eagly, Mladinic, and Otto (1994) explored the bases of attitudes toward four social groups (women, men, Democrats, Republicans). In addition, researchers have examined moderators in the effects of affect and cognition on attitudes. For example, Esses, Haddock, and Zanna (1993) focused on intergroup attitudes, and found that affect had a greater impact on out-group attitudes than cognition for most target groups, but these effects varied because of different attitude objects. In accordance with this perspective on the role of moderators, I considered two types of supervisor, direct and indirect, for exploring how affect and cognition predict attitudes toward supervisors. Direct supervisors are defined as those who interact directly with supervised groups, while indirect supervisors are those in the higher levels of management who interact indirectly with supervised groups (Borgogni, Russo, & Latham, 2011). Previous researchers have shown that attitudes toward direct and indirect supervisors are related to job satisfaction (Walumbwa, Wang, Lawler, & Shi, 2004) and organizational commitment (Rhoades, Eisenberger, & Armeli, 2001), and could significantly predict collective action toward supervisors (Kelly & Kelly, 1994). Distinguishing the influences of affect and cognition on attitudes toward distinct types of supervisor will offer vital information for practitioners who are concerned with improving supervised groups' satisfaction through affective and cognitive interventions (Mehrabian, 1967) in organizational management.

McCauley (1972) and Myers and Lamm (1976) suggested that group attitudes that would be influenced by in-group interactions (e.g., group discussions) are quite different from those of individuals within the group. As well, Saguy, Dovidio, and Pratto (2008) suggested that group-level research should be extended and the nature and course of actual interactions between groups examined. Furthermore, Zhou and Wang (2012) collected attitudes at a group level and indicated that supervised groups' attitudes could predict their hostile collective action. However, which component (affect or cognition) predicts these group attitudes has not been understood. Therefore, in this study, I aim to extend the findings of previous researchers by assessing attitudes of groups rather than individuals, and by investigating the power of affect and cognition in predicting group attitudes.

Malhotra (2005) reviewed affect-cognition interaction research and suggested that cognition was more likely to dominate attitudes if processing resources in attitude formation were high. By contrast, affect was more likely to dominate attitudes if processing resources were low. …

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