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prejudice that may prevent reaching the goal would be using secondary
compensation if he or she devalued the goal (a college education is not all that
important) or disidenti¬ed with the goal (members of my group usually donʼt
go to college). On the other hand, primary compensation reduces the actual
threats posed by prejudice. Coping strategies are developed that allow the
target of prejudice to achieve his or her goals.
14. What can be done about prejudice?
Although prejudice has plagued humans throughout their history, there
may be ways to reduce it. The contact hypothesis suggests that increased
contact between groups should increase positive feelings. However, mere
contact may not be enough. Positive feelings are enhanced when there is
a superordinate goal toward which groups work cooperatively. Another
strategy is to personalize out-group members; this prevents falling back
on stereotypes. It is also bene¬cial to increase the frequency of antiracist
statements that people hear, a form of strengthening social norms. A strong
expression of social norms, disapproval of prejudice in all of its variations,
is probably the best way to discourage and reduce prejudiced acts. Prejudice
may also be reduced through training programs that seek to dissociate
negative traits from minority group members. Although these programs have
met with some success, there is no simple, consistent effect of training on
racial prejudice.
Attitudes
The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for
the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills
and ideas”a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the
beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.
”Ronald Reagan



Ida Tarbell is not a name most of us recognize. A history of American Key Questions
women doesn™t give her even a single line (Hymowitz & Weissman, 1984). As you read this chapter,
Yet, she was at the center of American life for the ¬rst three decades of the ¬nd the answers to the
20th century. Teddy Roosevelt hurled the mocking epithet “muckraker” at following questions:
her. It was a label she eventually wore proudly, for she, perhaps more than
1. What is an attitude?
anyone else, told the American people about the corruption, conspiracies,
2. What is the relationship of
strong-arm tactics, and enormous greed that went into “business as usual”
attitudes to values?
at the turn of the century (Fleming, 1986).
3. What are implicit and explicit
Tarbell grew up in Titusville, Pennsylvania. In the last decades of the
attitudes?
19th century, it was the center of the booming oil industry. It was also the
town that would make Standard Oil Company and its founder, John D. 4. How are attitude surveys
conducted?
Rockefeller, richer than anyone could imagine.
Tarbell grew up among derricks and oil drums, in oil-cloaked ¬elds, under 5. What are the potential
oil-¬‚ecked skies. In 1872 her father™s business was threatened by a scheme sources of bias in a survey?
devised by Rockefeller and his partners that would allow them to ship their 6. What are behavioral
oil via the railroads at a much cheaper fare than any other producer, thus measures of attitudes?
driving their competition out of the business. Frank Tarbell and the others 7. What is the Implicit Attitude
fought this scheme and forced the railroads to treat everyone fairly, at least Test (IAT)?
temporarily. Ida was well informed about the conspiracy and, possessing
8. What does the IAT tell us
her father™s strong sense of justice, was outraged. She vowed that if she about our prejudices?
were given the chance, she would make people aware of the greed and
9. How are attitudes formed?
dishonesty she had witnessed. At this time she was 15 years old (Weinberg
10. Can attitudes be inherited?
& Weinberg, 1961).
In college, Tarbell was a free spirit. She became friends with whomever 11. What is agenda setting?
she wanted, ignored all the unwritten social rules, learned to be critical and 12. What is naïve realism, and
disciplined in her work, and graduated with a degree in natural science. how does it in¬‚uence our
After working as a schoolteacher, she went off to Paris to become a writer. political attitudes?

155
Social Psychology
156


For years, she wrote articles and biographies, but in 1900, she started to write
13. What impact do social about oil. She began to form an idea about a series of articles on the Standard
networks have on Oil Company, which supplied almost all the oil that was used to light American
attitude formation and
homes in the days before electricity. Although Standard Oil had been investigated
change?
on charges of bribery and other illegal tactics by authorities for almost the entire
14. What is the relationship 30 years of its existence, very little evidence existed in the public domain. Tarbell
between attitudes and
got around that by getting to know one of the company™s vice presidents, Henry
behavior?
Rogers, who let her have access to private records. Rogers was unapologetic
15. What is the notion of about his role. He cheerfully admitted that Rockefeller lied, cheated, double-dealt,
the nonrational actor?
and used violence or the threat of it to build an enormously successful, powerful,
16. How has the controversy and ef¬cient company (Fleming, 1986).
over the rational and
Tarbell™s book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, published in 1904,
nonrational actor been
appeared in monthly installments in McClure™s magazine. It was a sensation. It
resolved?
read like a suspense story, and readers couldn™t wait until the next month™s issue.
The book had a ready-made villain: John D. Rockefeller. He was portrayed as a
money-hungry rogue without a shred of humanity, and that is the image of him
that has come down to us 100 years later. After the book came out, he tried
to restore his image by giving some $35 million to charity. At the time, he was
estimated to be worth over $900 million, a sum equivalent to many billions in
today™s currency.
Tarbell™s work had a tremendous impact on the nation. It led not only to a
number of lawsuits against the oil industry for its monopolistic practices, but also to
federal antitrust laws that dismantled the original Standard Oil Company. Today, we
have a number of independent Standard Oil companies (Ohio, New Jersey, etc.)
as a result of Tarbell™s work.
Even more remarkable than what Tarbell did was the way she did it. She was
entirely skeptical of all the common beliefs of her time. She did not believe in the
theory of the inferiority of women, prevalent in the early years of her life, nor did
she believe in the turn-of-the-century theory that women were morally superior
and evolutionarily more advanced. She joined no organizations or social reform
movements. Yet she took on the most powerful men in the country and became
a formidable adversary (Fleming, 1986).
Tarbell was determined, controlled, and unafraid, but her attitudes and
behavior were also shaped and informed by her experience. She grew up in a
family that supported her in her independent ways and encouraged her to do what
she thought was right. She was powerfully in¬‚uenced by her father, within whom
she saw a strong sense of justice. Events that occurred during her formative years
motivated and inspired her and forever altered the way she viewed the world.
The attitudes that Tarbell held played a fundamental role in the way she
perceived the world around her. Like other mechanisms of social cognition, they
organized her experiences, directed her behavior, and helped de¬ne who she
was. We begin by exploring what attitudes are and what role they play in our
lives. What are the elements that go into attitudes? How do they ¬‚ow from and
express our deepest values? What are the processes by which we acquire or
develop attitudes? And what is the relationship between attitudes and behavior
in our day-to-day lives? How do attitudes express the relationships among what
we think, what we feel, what we intend to do, and what we actually do? These
are some of the questions addressed in this chapter.
Chapter 5 Attitudes 157


What Are Attitudes?
The study of attitudes has been of fundamental concern to social psychologists through-
out the history of the ¬eld. Other issues may come and go, dictated by fashion in theory
and research and in¬‚uenced by current events, but interest in attitudes remains. This
preoccupation with attitudes is easy to understand. The concept of attitudes is central
to explaining our thoughts, feelings, and actions with regard to other people, situations,
and ideas.
In this section, we explore the basic concept of attitudes. First we look at and elabo-
rate on a classic de¬nition of the term. Then we consider how attitudes relate to values,
what functions attitudes serve, and how attitudes can be measured.

Allport™s De¬nition of Attitudes
The word attitude crops up often in our everyday conversation. We speak of having an
attitude about someone or something. In this usage, attitude usually implies feelings
that are either positive or negative. We also speak of someone who has a “bad attitude.”
You may, for example, think that a coworker has an “attitude problem.” In this usage,
attitude implies some personality characteristic or behavior pattern that offends us.
Social psychologists use the term attitude differently than this. In order to study
and measure attitudes, they need a clear and careful de¬nition of the term. Gordon
Allport, an early attitude theorist, formulated the following de¬nition: “An attitude is a
mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive
attitude A mental and neural
or dynamic in¬‚uence upon the individualʼs response to all objects and situations with
state of readiness, organized
which it is related” (1935). This is a rich and comprehensive de¬nition, and although
through experience, exerting a
there have been many rede¬nitions over the years, Allportʼs de¬nition still captures directive or dynamic in¬‚uence
much that is essential about attitudes (see Figure 5.1). Consequently, we adopt it here on the individual™s response to
as our central de¬nition. The de¬nition can be broken into three parts, each with some all objects and situations with
which it is related.
important implications (Rajecki, 1990).
First, because attitudes are mental or neural states of readiness, they are necessar-
ily private. Scientists who study attitudes cannot measure them directly in the way, for
example, that medical doctors can measure blood pressure. Only the person who holds
an attitude is capable of having direct access to it. The social psychological measures
of an attitude must be indirect.




Figure 5.1 A schematic
diagram of Allport™s
de¬nition of an attitude
showing the important
components of an attitude.
Social Psychology
158

Second, if attitudes are organized through experience, they are presumably formed
through learning from a variety of experiences and in¬‚uences. Our attitudes about,
say, appropriate roles for men and women are shaped by the attitudes passed on by
our culture, especially by parents, friends, and other agents of socialization, such as
schools and television. Recall that even though the wider society was not supportive
of women in nontraditional roles in Ida Tarbellʼs time, her parents were very support-
ive. The notion that our attitudes arise only from experience is too limiting, however.
There is also increasing evidence that some attitudes also have a genetic element
(Tesser, 1993). Finally, because attitudes exert a directive or dynamic in¬‚uence on a
personʼs response to objects, people, and situations, attitudes are directly related to our
actions or behavior.

Attitude Structures
An attitude is made up of four interconnected components: cognitions, affective
responses, behavioral intentions, and behaviors. To understand this interconnectedness,
letʼs consider the attitude of someone opposed to gun-control legislation. Her attitude can
be stated as, “I am opposed to laws in any way controlling the ownership of guns.”
This attitude would be supported by cognitions, or thoughts, about laws and gun
ownership. For example, she might think that unrestricted gun ownership is a basic right
guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The attitude would also be
supported by affective responses, or feelings. She might feel strongly about her right
to do what she wants to do without government interference, or she might feel strongly
about protecting her family from intruders.
The attitude, and the cognitions and feelings that support it, can result in behavioral
intentions and behaviors. Our hypothetical person might intend to send money to the
National Ri¬‚e Association or to call her representative to argue against a gun-control
bill. Finally, she might turn that intention into some real action and send the money or
call her legislator.
attitude structure An attitude is really a summary of an attitude structure, which consists of these
The fact that attitudes comprise interconnected components (Zimbardo & Leippe, 1992). Thus, the attitude “I oppose
a cognitive, affective, and laws that restrict handgun ownership” comprises a series of interrelated thoughts, feel-
behavioral component in their
ings, and intentions.
basic structure.
A change in one component of an attitude structure might very well lead to changes
in the others (Zimbardo & Leippe, 1992), because an attitude structure is dynamic, with
each component in¬‚uencing the others. For example, if a close relative of yours lost his
job because of a new gun-control law, a person who favors strong gun-control laws may
change her mind. The attitude structure would now be in turmoil. New feelings about
guns might lead to new thoughts; intentions might change and, with them, behaviors.
Generally, the affective component dominates the attitude (Breckler & Wiggins, 1989).
When we think of a particular object or person, our initial response is usually some
expression of affect, as in, “I feel women will make good political candidates.” We do
not simply have attitudes about war, or the president, or baseball: We like these things,
or we do not. When an attitude is evoked, it is always with positive or negative feeling,
although, to be sure, the feeling varies in intensity. It is likely that our most intensely held
attitudes in particular are primarily affective in nature (Ajzen, 1989). Thus, you might
think of an attitude as primarily a response emphasizing how you feel about someone
or something, as primarily an evaluation of the person or object. But keep in mind also
that this evaluation is based on all the thoughts, intentions, and behaviors that go into
the structure of the attitude (Zanna & Rempel, 1988).
Chapter 5 Attitudes 159


Attitudes as an Expression of Values
Our attitudes ¬‚ow from and express our values (Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach, & Grube, 1984).
value A concept closely
A value is a conception of what is desirable; it is a guideline for a personʼs actions, a
related to an attitude that is a
standard for behavior. Thus, for example, the attitude that more women and members of
standard of what is desirable
different ethnic groups should be elected to of¬ce might ¬‚ow from the value of equal-
for one™s actions.
ity. The attitude that public of¬cials who lie or cheat should be punished severely might
¬‚ow from the value of honesty. Ida Tarbell placed a high value on fairness and justice
and was outraged by the actions of Standard Oil Company.
Notice that attitudes are directed toward objects, people, and situations; values are
broad, abstract notions. Because values are more general than attitudes, there are few
values but many attitudes. Just as an attitude can be seen as a system of cognitive, affec-
tive, and behavioral components, so a value can be seen as containing many interrelated
attitudes. The value of equality could give rise not only to the attitude, say, that more
women and members of different ethnic groups should hold of¬ce but also to count-
less other attitudes relating to the innumerable people, objects, issues, and ideas toward
which one might direct thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Milton Rokeach, a social psychologist who spent most of his professional life
studying how people organize their value systems, argued that there are two distinct
categories of values (1973, 1979). He called one category terminal values. Terminal
values according to Rokeach (1973) refer to desired “end states.” For example, equality,
freedom, a comfortable life, and salvation would all be end states. The other category
he called instrumental values. Instrumental values, which ¬‚ow from our preferred
end states, could be values such as being forgiving, broadminded, and responsible.
According to Rokeach, two fundamental terminal values, equality and freedom, are
especially predictive of a whole range of attitudes. Attitudes about the role of gov-
ernment, for example, often can be predicted by knowing how someone ranks these
two values. A person who values equality more highly probably would want the gov-
ernment to take an active role in education, health, and other social welfare issues. A
person who values freedom more highly probably would prefer that government stay
out of the way and let everyone fend for themselves. Consider a person who rates
equality higher than freedom. How might this affect her attitudes on speci¬c issues?
A high value placed on equality implies that the individual is more concerned with the
common good than with individual freedoms (although freedom might still be ranked

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