Annual Review of Psychology, vol 52 2001 by Susan T. Fiske, Daniel L. Schacter, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler

By Susan T. Fiske, Daniel L. Schacter, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler

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Annu. Rev. Psychol. 52:27-58. org by Ball State University on 01/05/09. For personal use only. Attitude Objects The idea that attitudes are dispositions to evaluate psychological objects would seem to imply that we hold one, and only one, attitude toward any given object or issue. Recent work, however, suggests that this may be too simplistic a conception. Thus, when attitudes change, the new attitude overrides but may not replace the old attitude (Wilson et al 2000). According to this model of dual attitudes, people can simultaneously hold two different attitudes toward a given object in the same context, one attitude implicit or habitual, the other explicit.

Participants were asked to indicate, on a set of evaluative semantic differential scales, how they thought versus how they felt about attitude objects in two different domains: brand names and countries. Response times were significantly shorter for affective judgments, suggesting that the affective aspects underlying attitudes are more easily accessible in memory. Consistent with this finding, when beliefs and feelings regarding an object are of opposite valence, feelings tend to predominate (Lavine et al 1998b).

Org by Ball State University on 01/05/09. For personal use only. ATTITUDES 39 toward euthanasia; and attitude extremity affected the stability of attitudes toward legalized abortion. Lavine et al (1998a) showed that attitude strength moderates the susceptibility of attitudes to item context effects in surveys, with relatively weak attitudes being more susceptible to context effects than relatively strong attitudes. However, this finding was obtained only with a multi-item aggregate measure of attitude strength (containing measures of importance, certainty, extremity, frequency of thought, intensity, and ambivalence), not when a single item was used to assess attitude strength.

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