Overview and Historical Background

A great read to get Social Cognition into perspective and particularly to appreciate the role of landmark studies in "Social Psychology" (Social Cognition) - Asch, Milgram, Festinger, Zimbardo, Sherif, Bandura. Good brief sections on Research Methods, Ethics, Self-Concept. A highly recommended quick read. Here is the link to Wikipedia:

Elaboration Likelihood Model From Wikipedia - good summary==
The ELM of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) is a model of how attitudes are formed and changed. Central to this model is the "elaboration continuum", which ranges from low elaboration (low thought) to high elaboration (high thought). The ELM distinguishes between two routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route.
Now listen to me and think about this ...

Persuasion is a form of social influence. It is the process of guiding people and oneself toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic (though not always logical) means. (persuasion).

Interesting Perspective on the ELM. More information than you really need, but will enhance understanding of the different routes of persausion along with the contribution to these to individual differences .

  • A mind map (a framework for conceptualising) ) can illustrate the key sub-topic areas and elements for the topic of Social Cognition.

    Here is one courtesy of Jack's Excellent So-Cog ... (right click link and open in new window to also retain the present page).
    A static image of the page is displayed below.
    Exam questions you will be asked about "Attitudes" will require that you can decide what aspect of attitude structure and function is actually being addressed - usually a scenarion is presented. That is, you will need to be able to decide; "Am I being asked about the structure of an attitude (ABC), the function of an attitude (KIEV), how strong it is, how it can be changed (SMAC & central vs peripheral)" ...and so on.
    The map helps you to see relationship of how the topic has been logically fragmented into component sub-topics and the elements which then belong within a "sub-topic".
  • BI-DIRECTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS between Attitude <---------------------> Behaviour

    We can probably readily accept how attitudes can influence behaviour - particularly for strongly held attitudes. We can also probably readily accept and understand that certain social situations may prevent expression of certain attitudes expressed via our behaviour - that is, we refrain from expressing an attitude and adjust our behaviour to suit the social situation.

    But how behaviour affects attitude can be more difficult to grasp. Our textbook gives us a basic understanding of cognitive dissonance (where conflicting attitudes are inconsistent with the behaviour we may display) but as you may guess, it can get a bit more more complex than outlined. The following pdf gives more insight into the process of cognitive dissonance and may help you better understand it should you be struggling to grasp the theory (Cog Diss Theory ). But before that, you might prefer a quick overview of Cognitive Dissonance courtesy of Wikipedia.
  • MindMap_So-Cog.jpg
  • Attitudes

Attitudes are evaluations people make about objects, ideas, events, or other people. Attitudes (Attitudes - Evaluations people make about objects, ideas, events, or other people.) can be positive or negative.
Explicit attitudes are conscious beliefs that can guide decisions and behaviour (Conscious - The part of the mind that contains all the information that a person is paying attention to at a particular time.).
Implicit attitudes are unconscious beliefs that can still influence decisions and behaviour (Unconscious - The part of the mind that contains thoughts, feelings, desires, and memories of which people have no awareness but that can influence people’s behaviour.).
Attitudes can include up to three components:
cognitive, emotional, and behavioural. (OR ABC where Affective is the same as emotional)
Jane believes that smoking is unhealthy, feels disgusted when people smoke around her, and avoids being in situations where people smoke.
Dimensions of Attitudes
Researchers study three dimensions of attitude: strength, accessibility, and ambivalence.
    • Attitude strength: Strong attitudes are those that are firmly held and that highly influence behaviour. Attitudes that are important to a person tend to be strong. Attitudes that people have a vested interest in also tend to be strong. Furthermore, people tend to have stronger attitudes about things, events, ideas, or people they have considerable knowledge and information about.
    • Attitude accessibility: The accessibility of an attitude refers to the ease with which it comes to mind. In general, highly accessible attitudes tend to be stronger.
    • Attitude ambivalence: Ambivalence of an attitude refers to the ratio of positive and negative evaluations that make up that attitude. The ambivalence of an attitude increases as the positive and negative evaluations get more and more equal.

The Influence of Attitudes on Behaviour

Behaviour does not always reflect attitudes. However, attitudes do determine behaviour in some situations:
    • If there are few outside influences, attitude guides behaviour.
Wyatt has an attitude that eating junk food is unhealthy. When he is at home, he does not eat chips or candy. However, when he is at parties, he indulges in these foods.
    • Behaviour is guided by attitudes specific to that behaviour.
Megan might have a general attitude of respect toward seniors, but that would not prevent her from being disrespectful to an elderly woman who cuts her off at a stop sign. However, if Megan has an easygoing attitude about being cut off at stop signs, she is not likely to swear at someone who cuts her off.
    • Behaviour is guided by attitudes that come to mind easily.
Ron has an attitude of mistrust and annoyance toward telemarketers, so he immediately hangs up the phone whenever he realizes he has been contacted by one.
The Influence of Behaviour on Attitudes
Behaviour also affects attitudes. Evidence for this comes from the foot-in-the-door phenomenon and the effect of role playing.
The Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon
People tend to be more likely to agree to a difficult request if they have first agreed to an easy one. This is called the foot-in-the-door phenomenon.
Jill is more likely to let an acquaintance borrow her laptop for a day if he first persuades her to let him borrow her textbook for a day.
Social Norms and Social Roles
Social norms are a society’s rules about appropriate behaviour. [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|Norms]] exist for practically every kind of situation. Some norms are explicit and are made into laws, such as the norm While driving, you may not run over a pedestrian. Other norms are implicit and are followed unconsciously, such as You may not wear a bikini to class.
Social roles are patterns of behaviour that are considered appropriate for a person in a particular context. For example, [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|gender]] roles tell people how a particular society expects men and women to behave. A person who violates the requirements of a role tends to feel uneasy or to be censured by others. Role requirements can change over time in a society.

The Effect of Role Playing and the “Prison Study”

People tend to internalize roles they play, changing their attitudes to fit the roles. In the 1970s, the psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted a famous study called the prison study, which showed how roles influence people. Zimbardo assigned one [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|group]] of college student volunteers to play the role of prison guards in a simulated prison environment. He provided these students with uniforms, clubs, and whistles and told them to enforce a set of rules in the prison. He assigned another group of students to play the role of prisoners. Zimbardo found that as time went on, some of the “guard” students became increasingly harsh and domineering. The “prisoner” students also internalized their role. Some broke down, while others rebelled or became passively resigned to the situation. The internalization of roles by the two groups of students was so extreme that Zimbardo had to terminate the study after only six days.
Attitude Change
Researchers have proposed three theories to account for attitude change: [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|learning]] [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|theory]], [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|dissonance theory]], and the [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|elaboration likelihood model]].
Learning Theory
Learning theory says that attitudes can be formed and changed through the use of learning principles such as [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|classical conditioning]], operant conditioning, and [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|observational learning]]:
    • Classical conditioning: The emotional component of attitudes can be formed through classical conditioning. For example, in a billboard ad, a clothing company pairs a sweater with an attractive model who elicits a pleasant emotional response. This can make people form a positive attitude about the sweater and the clothing company.
    • [[file:/H:/Olin Stick BKUP/MARCH MAYBE/Psych 12/Attitudes sparknotes.doc|Operant conditioning]]: If someone gets a positive response from others when she expresses an attitude, that attitude will be reinforced and will tend to get stronger. On the other hand, if she gets a negative response from others, that attitude tends to get weaker.
    • Observational learning: Seeing others display a particular attitude and watching people be reinforced for expressing a particular attitude can make someone adopt those attitudes.

Dissonance Theory

Leon Festinger’s dissonance theory proposes that people change their attitudes when they have attitudes that are inconsistent with each other. Festinger said that people experience cognitive dissonance when they have related cognitions that conflict with one another. Cognitive dissonance results in a state of unpleasant tension. People try to reduce the tension by changing their attitudes.
Cognitive dissonance - An unpleasant state of tension that arises when a person has related cognitions that conflict with one another.
Conflict - The experience of having two or more incompatible desires or motives.
Sydney is against capital punishment. She participates in a debate competition and is assigned to a team that has to argue for capital punishment. Subsequently, she is more amenable to the idea of capital punishment.
The phenomenon called justification of effort also results from cognitive dissonance. Justification of effort refers to the idea that if people work hard to reach a goal, they are likely to value the goal more. They justify working hard by believing that the goal is valuable.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (Central versus Peripheral routes of persuasion)
The elaboration likelihood model holds that attitude change is more permanent if the elaborate and thought-provoking persuasive messages are used to change the attitude. Basically, if someone can provide a thorough, thought-provoking persuasive message to change an attitude, he is more likely to succeed than if he provides a neutral or shallow persuasive message.
Ten teenagers who smoke are sent to an all-day seminar on the negative consequences of smoking. Many of the students subsequently give up the habit.
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