Attitude Change and Persuasion Essay

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Attitude Change and Persuasion

Attitiude Change And Persuasion

Attitudes May Affect Judgments About the Accuracy of Factual Statements

We as humans utilize heuristics as mental shortcuts or rules of thumb when we lack time for full-processing, are being overloaded by information, when we deem issues unimportant, or when we have little solid information to use in decision making. In viewing attitude heuristics, we tend to determine what is true in our own minds based upon our feelings for things. Such determinations often lead to a halo effect, which causes our general first impressions to influence all of our future ratings, and also to the false consensus affect which leads us to overestimate reality and believe that everyone else likes and perceives things in the same way we do.

Some studies have shown that attitudes serve as a heuristic for estimating an answer about past behavior. For instance, when an attitude heuristic is applied to recall an event, "memory" will appear to be "superior," to the extent that the subject's inferences and constructions coincide with what actually happened (Pratkanis, 1987, p.6). Such a statement can be applied to the accuracy of factual statements. In utilizing an attitude as a heuristic, these attitudes can lead to a selective identification of the facts or ambiguous past events. Therefore, upon being given the facts, an individual may assert differences of opinion in terms of recollection and illustrate selective qualities in terms of personality or memory.

Such examples of using attitude as a heuristic can show themselves in our everyday lives dependent upon the situation at hand and the past perceptions we choose to associate with this new reality. For example, "Mike" may not like President Obama. He doesn't like his demeanor, his policy, his beliefs, his morality. There is little that President Obama can do in the public eye to change the way Mike perceives him. Because of this attitude, any new plan or policy initiative President Obama sets forth will ultimately be viewed as worthless in Mike's eyes. Mike doesn't like Obama, and therefore Mike will never like any plan Obama puts forth based on past attitude alone. The same can be viewed in dealing with stereotypes. In the same manner, it can be viewed that Mike's racism toward African-Americans will shape his perception of every African-American he meets, all based on a pre-constructed attitude with little factual basis.

The same attitude as a heuristic can be viewed in a positive spectrum, but still one that is lacking in factual makeup. Assume again that Mike's favorite color is blue. It has been since he was a child, and he has gravitated toward it far into his adulthood. Assume Mike is walking down the aisle at a supermarket, Mike may be more inclined to choose the detergent in the blue bottle based on his attitude and not on the factual representation of the product itself.

II. Research Indicates that Bipolar Attitudes May Serve as a Schema for Recall

Schema is all of the information needed to make a movement decision, which is stored in the brain as long-term memory and dysfunctional attitudes have been closely linked with cognitive schemas and the capacity for recall, embodying frameworks to help organize and interpret information. Some researchers have reported higher levels of dysfunctional attitudes in those with bipolar attitudes (Goldberg et al., 2008, p.207). While a schema describes the concepts of organized pattern of thoughts or behavior, structured clusters of pre-held ideas, mental structures that represent some aspects of the world, specific knowledge structure or cognitive representations of the self, mental frameworks that center on a specific theme, and structures to organize our knowledge and assumptions about something that are used…

Sources Used in Document:


Courchaine, K., MacNair, R., Metzler, A., and Neimeyer, G. (1991). Changing personal beliefs: effects of forewarning, argument quality, prior bias, and personal explanation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 10.1: pp. 1. Web. Retrieved from: ProQuest Database.

Goldberg, J., Welker, T., Wenze, S., Gerstein, R., and Beck, A. (2008). Dysfunctional attitudes and cognitive schemas in bipolar manic and unipolar depressed outpatients. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 196.1: pp. 207-210.

Pratkanis, A. (1987, May). The attitude heuristic and selective fact identification. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED285107.

Attitude Change and Persuasion

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