Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches

By Richard E. Petty; John T. Cacioppo | Go to book overview

and (c) changing attitudes toward the various alternatives, particularly reevaluating more favorably the threatened or eliminated alternative.


Retrospective

The approach to attitudes and persuasion that we surveyed in this chapter focuses on the different human motives as they relate to attitude change. The need or desire to maintain cognitive consistency, or what people consider to be "logical" consistency among their beliefs (i.e., psycho-logic), is addressed by balance and congruity theories of attitude change. The attitudinal effects of the drive to maintain cognitive consistency between pairs of elements, such as between one's attitude and one's behavior, is the focus of cognitive dissonance theory. Dissonance theory is especially intriguing because it correctly predicts that, in certain specifiable instances, our attitudes will change the less our newly expressed attitudinal positions are associated with rewards. Another consistency theory of sorts, impression management theory, details how our attitudes are influenced by the desire to maintain a consistency in social behaviors (including attitude expressions) across situations. Finally, psychological reactance theory outlines the effects of threatening or eliminating our freedom to choose freely how to think, feel, and act. Although the research that we have reviewed in this chapter clearly shows that there is utility in viewing some attitude changes as being influenced by strong motivational forces, we shall find in the next chapter that other attitude changes can be viewed as resulting from a cool, detached analysis of the persuasion situation.


Notes
1
Newcomb ( 1953, 1968) has developed another version of balance theory that is primarily relevant to interpersonal attraction and communication, so we will not discuss Newcomb's version further here.
2
There have, however, been attempts to quantify Heider's balance theory. Wiest ( 1965), for example, allowed each relation to take on a value from -3 to +3, and conceptualized the p-o-x triad as a cube in which each of the dimensions represented a different one of the three -3 to +3 relations. Connecting the four balanced corners of the cube produces a tetrahedron inside the cube, and Wiest postulated that balanced points would, by and large, exist on the surface of the tetrahedron. Wellens & Thistlewaite ( 1971) provide mathematical formulae that enable prediction of a value of one relation from specified values of the other two. For example, when relations are rated on a -3 to +3 scale, the p-o relation can be predicted from the p-x and o-x relations by the following formula: p-o = .5[3 - | (p-x) - (o-x) |] + .5 [| (p-x) + (o-x) | - 3]. Thus, if you like xylophones a little (p-x = +1), and Olivia likes them a lot (o-x = +3), your liking for Olivia (p-o) would be: .5[3 - | 1 - 3 |] + .5 [| 1 + 3 | - 3] = +1. Research on various tetrahedronic models of balance is only now beginning to accumulate, so it is too early to evaluate their utility, though the early signs are encouraging (see Tashakkori & Insko, 1979, in press).

-160-

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Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1: Introduction to Attitudes and Persuasion 3
  • Notes 37
  • Conditioning and Modeling Approaches 2 39
  • Notes 57
  • The Message-Learning Approach 3 59
  • Notes 93
  • Judgmental Approaches 4 95
  • Notes 123
  • 5: Motivational Approaches 125
  • Notes 160
  • 6: Attributional Approaches 163
  • Notes 181
  • Combinatory Approaches 7 183
  • Notes 211
  • 8: Self-Persuasion Approaches 213
  • Notes 252
  • Epilog: A General Framework for Understanding Attitude Change Processes 9 255
  • Notes 268
  • References 271
  • Author Index 301
  • Subject Index 309
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