Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Mood and the Formation of Attitudes

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Mood and the Formation of Attitudes

Article excerpt

Abstract

Two studies were conducted to examine how mood influences the attitudes we form. After reading the Velten mood induction cards, subjects were presented with positive and negative belief statements about an unfamiliar attitude object. Measures of attitudes, statements recalled, and evaluations of statements were taken. In both studies, mood was shown to influence attitudes. Moreover, in Study 1, subjects evaluated both positive and negative statements in line with their mood. These results are consistent with the research of Mackie and Worth on the effects of positive mood on persuasion, and suggest that negative mood may also operate to encourage the use of heuristic processing of information. No evidence was found for a mood - congruity effect in either study.

Resume

Le but des deux etudes effectuees etait d'examiner de quelle facon l'humeur influence les attitudes que nous adoptons. Apres avoir lu les cartes d'induction d'humeur de Velten, les sujets ont entendu des enonces positifs et negatifs qui traduisaient des opinions concernant l'objet d'une attitude non familier. Les mesures des attitudes, les enonces rappeles et les evaluations des enonces ont ete consignes. Dans les deux etudes, l'humeur influencait les attitudes. De plus, dans l'etude 1, les sujets ont evalue des enonces positifs et negatifs correspondant a leur humeur. Les resultats cadrent avec ceux que Mackie et Worth ont obtenus dans une recherche sur les effets de l'humeur positive sur la persuasion et donnent a penser que l'humeur negative peut egalement favoriser le traitement heuristique de l'information. Aucune des etudes n'a demontre un effet de congruite de l'humeur.

Historically, the concepts of affect and attitude have been inextricably linked. For some early theorists, affect was seen as the primary characteristic of an attitude (Thurstone, 1931), and even those who took a multidimensional approach to the topic regarded affect as an important component (Allport, 1935; Krech & Crutchfield, 1948; Katz & Stotland, 1959). The language used to define an attitude often implies that affect plays a significant functional role in the relationship between attitudes and behaviour. Ajzen (1982), for example, defines an attitude as "a predisposition to respond in a generally favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to the object of the attitude" (p. 3). Despite the importance attributed to affect in the theoretical discussion of attitudes, empirical research has concentrated instead on more cognitive and behaviourial aspects (e.g., Festinger's (1957) cognitive dissonance theory, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action).

In the last decade, the role of affect in cognitive processing has been widely debated (e.g., Blaney, 1986; Bower, 1981; Ellis & Ashbrook, 1989; Fiske, 1982; Isen, 1985; Zajonc, 1980 for reviews). This interest has also been reflected in the growing number of investigators who are examining the attitude - affect relationship (e.g., Mackie and Worth, 1989; Zanna and Rempel, 1988).

Much of the research on affect and attitudes has defined affect empirically as subjects' mood. One popular strategy has been to induce an experimental mood by manipulating situational variables. For instance, in the classic study of Janis, Kaye and Kirschner (1965), subjects were simply given a Pepsi (which presumably created a positive mood). Other examples of this kind of manipulation include putting subjects in a pleasant or unpleasant environment (Biggers & Pryor, 1982), seating subjects in high or low population density rooms (Griffitt & Veitch, 1971), and having subjects succeed or fail at a videogame (Isen, Shalker, Clark & Karp, 1978). An alternative strategy has been to focus more directly on the individual. Bower and his colleagues, for example, manipulated mood via hypnosis (e.g., Bower and Cohen, 1982), and Schwarz and Clore (1983) simply asked subjects to think about pleasant or unpleasant events in their life. …

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