Cognitive Responses in Persuasion

By Richard E. Petty; Thomas M. Ostrom et al. | Go to book overview

2
The Nature of Attitudes and Cognitive Responses and Their Relationships to Behavior

John T. Cacioppo University of Iowa

Stephen G. Harkins Northeastern University

Richard E. Petty University of Missouri-Columbia


INTRODUCTION

In the first chapter, the cognitive response approach to the study of attitude change was introduced, and the prominent role that early theorists and researchers gave to the cognitive mediation of persuasion was documented. In this chapter, we define the concepts of attitude and cognitive response more precisely and discuss the most common techniques of measurement. Finally, we discuss the relationships between attitudes, cognitive responses, and behaviors.

The originator of modern attitude measurement, Thurstone ( 1931), conceived of an attitude as the amount of affect or feeling for or against a stimulus. The attitude concept was subsequently broadened to include dimensions other than the affective one. In their classic investigation of opinions and personality discussed in Chapter 1, Smith, Bruner, and White ( 1956) conceived of an attitude as containing seven properties. For example, salience concerned the extent to which a particular attitude was central in the everyday concerns of a person; object value was the affective tone engendered by the attitude; and orientation concerned the action or behavioral tendencies aroused by the attitude. Scott ( 1968) subsequently provided an even more extensive list of 11 features of attitudes (e.g., direction, cognitive complexity, overtness, and so on).

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