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PSYCH301: Social Psychology

Unit 3: Attitude and Attitude Change   Attitudes are an essential component of our psychological world. We evaluate items every day in terms of good and bad or like and dislike, and it is through these evaluations that we make sense of our world. Importantly, attitudes are not fixed and are subject to change with experience. For these reasons, attitudes have occupied a central place in the field of social psychology. In this unit, you will learn about what attitudes are and the important concept of cognitive dissonance, which is associated with attitude change.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 8.5 hours.
 
☐    Subunit 3.1: 3 hours
☐    Subunit 3.2: 2.5 hours
☐    Subunit 3.3: 3 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- explain the foundations, functions, and consequences of attitudes; - outline the basic methodology, results, and impact of seminal research studies in the area of attitude and attitude change in social psychology (e.g., Milgram’s study, Asch’s study, Festinger’s study, etc.); and - explain the concept of cognitive dissonance and the competing theories that explain this phenomenon.

3.1 Attitude: An Introduction   - Reading: Course Resources on the Web (CROW) Project: Dr. R. H. Fazio and Dr. M.A. Olson’s “Attitudes: Foundations, Functions, and Consequences” Link: Course Resources on the Web (CROW) Project: Dr. R. H. Fazio and Dr. M.A. Olson’s “Attitudes: Foundations, Functions, and Consequences” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Note this chapter will cover the topics outlined in subunits 3.1.1-3.1.4. Select the hyperlink Attitudes: Foundations, Functions, and Consequences to download the PDF file. Read this chapter.
 
Reading this chapter should take you approximately 2 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: University of Idaho: Professor Traci Craig’s “What Is an Attitude and from Where Did It Come?” Link: University of Idaho: Professor Traci Craig’s “What Is an Attitude and from Where Did It Come?” (RealAudio)
     
    Also available in:
    Transcript (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Note this lecture covers concepts outlined in subunits 3.1.1-3.1.4. Click on the hyperlink to the audio lecture and PowerPoint slides, which are located at the bottom of the To-Do List box on the right hand side of the webpage. Listen to this short lecture and simultaneously follow along with the PowerPoint slides.
     
    Listening to this lecture and reading the slides should take you approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.1 Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Processes   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.1.

3.1.2 Qualities of Attitudes: Accessibility, Ambivalence, and Consistency   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.1.

3.1.3 Attitude Function   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.1.

3.1.4 The Attitude-Behavior Relation   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.1.

3.2 Theories of Cognitive Dissonance   - Reading: IntroPsych: Dr. Russ Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Festinger’s Theory of Cognitive Dissonance” Link: IntroPsych: Dr. Russ Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Festinger’s Theory of Cognitive Dissonance” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage. Note this webpage will cover the topics outlined in subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
 
Reading this webpage should take you approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: IntroPsych: Dr. Russ Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Cognitive Dissonance” Link: IntroPsych: Dr. Russ Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Cognitive Dissonance” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage. Note this webpage will cover the topics outlined in subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
     
    Reading this webpage should take you approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: IntroPsych: Dr. Russ Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Attitude-Discrepant Behavior” Link: IntroPsych: Dr. Russ Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Attitude-Discrepant Behavior” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage. Note this webpage will cover the topics outlined in subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
     
    Reading this webpage should take you approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: University of Idaho: Professor Traci Craig’s “Justifying Decisions and Effort” Link: University of Idaho: Professor Traci Craig’s “Justifying Decisions and Effort” (RealAudio)
     
    Also available in:
    Transcript (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Note this lecture will cover subunits 3.2 and 3.3. Click on the hyperlinks to the audio lecture and PowerPoint slides, which are located at the bottom of the To-Do List box on the right side of the webpage. Listen to this lecture as you view the PowerPoint slides. 
     
    This lecture contains topics relevant to the social psychological study of the self and social influence, which is covered in Unit 4. Therefore, this lecture provides a good example of how topics in psychology are often not mutually exclusive. 
     
    Listening to this lecture and reading the slides should take you approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.1 Cognitive Dissonance Defined   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.2.

3.2.2 Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.2.

3.2.3 Bem’s Self-Perception Theory   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.2.

3.2.4 Elliot Aronson’s Self-Concept Theory   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.2.

3.3 Empirical Research on Cognitive Dissonance   3.3.1 The Original Experiment   - Reading: Classics in the History of Psychology: Dr. Leon Festinger and Dr. James M. Carlsmith’s “Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance” Link: Classics in the History of Psychology: Dr. Leon Festinger and Dr. James M. Carlsmith’s “Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this empirical article as advised by the
readings presented in subunit 1.2. This classic study prompted more
than fifty years of research and hundreds of additional experiments
by psychologists around the world, making the theory of cognitive
dissonance one of the most influential theories in the history of
psychology.  

 Reading this article should take you approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.3.2 New Research on the Origins of Cognitive Dissonance   - Reading: Yale University: Dr. Louisa C. Egan, et al.’s “The Origins of Cognitive Dissonance” Link: Yale University: Dr. Louisa C. Egan, et al.’s “The Origins of Cognitive Dissonance” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Under Selected Journal Articles, scroll down to The Origins of Cognitive Dissonance and select the link to open in PDF format. Read this article as advised by the readings presented earlier in subunit 1.2. This article describes a research study of cognitive dissonance, using children and primates as the subjects to show decision rationalization, which resulted in the acknowledgement that dissonance may have developed earlier than previously believed.
 
Reading this article should take you approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 3 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 3 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 3 Assessment”

 Instructions: Complete this assessment to check your understanding
of the material covered in this unit. You will see the correct
answers after you hit the “Submit” button.</span>