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Attitude Measurement

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Attitude Measurement: Types of Measurement/To understand attitudes, it is necessary to know how attitudes are measured. Attitudes cannot be observed directly, but rather, they are inferred through behavior and self-report. As a result, social psychologists use a variety of methods to measure attitudes. By analyze methods social psychologists use to conduct attitude research and taking an in-depth look at the distinction between explicit and implicit attitudes and their respective measures. In their seminal article on subjective reporting of mental processes, Nisbett and Wilson (1977) argue that when asked to self-report on mental processes, people report more information than would be possible for them to actually know. This argument has implications for research that relies on introspective awareness for the self-reporting of attitudes and behaviors. As applied to attitude measurement, this argument leads to the question: Which factors influence whether or not you can provide an accurate self-report of your attitudes and behaviors?

What are two possible implications of the Nisbett and Wilson (1977) article on self-reporting of attitudes.

Explain how the perspectives in the article might influence how social psychologists conduct attitude research.

Provide your position on whether or not individuals are capable of accurately reporting their own attitudes and justify your position with references.

Some resources and other scholarly literature you can use:

Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., Christie, C., & Gonazales, P. M. (2007). Plausible assumptions, questionable assumptions and post hoc rationalizations: Will the real IAT, please stand up? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(3), 399-409.

Cunningham, W. A., Preacher, K. J., & Mahzarin, R. B. (2001). Implicit attitude measures: Consistency, stability, and convergent validity. Psychological Science, 12(2), 163-170.

Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6),1464-1480.

Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84(3), 231-259.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Nosek, B. A. (2007). Implicit-explicit relations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(2), 65-69.

Crites, S. L., Jr., Fabrigar, L. R., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Measuring the affective and cognitive properties of attitudes: Conceptual and methodological issues. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(6), page 619-634.

Fazio, R. H. (2001). On the automatic activation of associated evaluations: An overview. Cognition and Emotion, 15(2), 115-141.

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Life seems to have its way of catching up. Just as I was setting up for a busy education fair, news has reached me that my beloved granny, the one who raised me has just passed away. May she meet your sister in heaven. But as for us here, life goes on. Thank you for your patience. On to the task - here, you are being asked to reflect on attitude measurement. I suggest using this simple outline:

1. Attitude Measurement by Nisbett & Wilson - 100 words
2. Factors of influence & implications - 150 words
3. Perspectives impact on research - 100 words
4. Position - 100 words

Attitude Measurement

How do we measure attitude? McLeod (2009) reflects that since attitudes are all about to self-image & social acceptance, "the most straightforward way of finding out about someone's attitudes would be to ask them." But this notion of self-reporting can be flawed in many ways as people do not always report their 'true attitudes' in a bid to attain a positive self-image for social desirability. In 1977 Nisbett & Wilson published the study 'telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes' in issue 84 of the Psychological Review. Here they propose a different perspective - that it is not necessarily the desire for a positive social standing that people do not report about their attitudes, their emotions and thinking as true as they can but because they (Psychwiki, 2010) "do not have direct introspective access to many (if not most) of their mental processes." But in situations of talk, in communication, it is possible for people to 'tell more' about themselves (hence, their attitudes) than they themselves and the interviewer expect. This essentially is the position of Nisbett & Wilson(1977). Process-wise their method is explained simply as such (Psychwiki, 2010) - "The basic methodology in these studies is ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses types of measurement to understand attitudes.

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Evaluation and Application of Attitude Instruments

One goal of attitude measurement is to ensure reliability of scores. Researchers use a variety of techniques to assess the reliability of their instruments. One technique is internal consistency, which refers to whether or not the individual items on the instrument are assessing the same attitude construct. Another technique is test-retest reliability, which refers to the consistency in respondents' scores over time. A reliable attitude instrument should produce similar scores with repeated administration when attitude change is not intended. Another goal of attitude measurement is to ensure validity. A valid instrument is one that measures what it states it is designed to measure. There are three measures of validity that are important in the context of attitude measurement: discriminate validity, convergent validity, and predictive validity. Consider this example: To assess the validity of an instrument, that is designed to measure attitudes toward volunteerism, would involve demonstrating that the instrument is (1) not related to measures of other constructs irrelevant to volunteerism (discriminate validity), (2) related to other existing attitude measures of volunteerism (convergent reliability), and (3) predictive of behavior, such as volunteering one's time in the community (predictive validity).

A brief description of the attitude instrument, and include the type of measurement used.

In terms of reliability and validity, describe the methodological strengths and limitations of the attitude instrument.

Describe an area of interest in social psychology.

Explain two ways you might use this instrument to assess attitudes in your area of interest. Justify your response with some of the following references, resources and scholarly literature.

Resources, references and readings:

Alwin, D. F., & Krosnick, J. A. (1991). The reliability of survey attitude measurement: The influence of question and respondent attributes. Sociological Methods Research, 20(1), 139-181.

The Reliability of Survey Attitude Measurement: The Influence of Question and Respondent Attributes by Alwin, D. F., & Krosnick, J. A., in Sociological Methods & Research, Vol. 20/Issue 1. Copyright 1991 by Sage Publications Inc. - Journals. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Inc. - Journals via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Banaji, M. R., & Heiphetz, L. (2010). Attitudes. In S.T. Fiske, D.T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 353-393). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th Edition by S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.). Copyright 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. - Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. - Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.
oRead pp. 359-370

Kieruj, N. D., & Moors, G. (2010). Variations in response style behavior by response scale format in attitude research. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 22(3), 320-342. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Roberts, J. S., Laughlin, J. E., & Wedell, D. H. (1999). Validity issues in the Likert and Thurstone approaches to attitude measurement. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59(2), 211-233.

Schwartz, N. (1999). Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers. American Psychologist, 54(2), 93-105.

Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (1977). Attitude-behavior relations: A theoretical analysis and review of the empirical research. Psychological Bulletin, 84(5), 888-918.

Crites, S. L., Fabrigar, L. R., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Measuring the affective and cognitive properties of attitudes: Conceptual and methodological issues. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(6), 619-634.

Cunningham, W. A., Preacher, K. J., & Mahzarin, R. B. (2001). Implicit attitude measures: Consistency, stability, and convergent validity. Psychological Science, 12(2), 163-170.

Hong, Y., & Chiu, C. (1991). Reduction of socially desirable responses in attitude assessment through the enlightenment effect. The Journal of Social Psychology, 131(4), 585-587.

Newcomb, M. D., Rabow, J., & Hernandez, A. C. R. (1992). A cross-national study of nuclear attitudes, normative support, and activist behavior: Addictive and interactive effects. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22(10), 780-800.

Schwarz, N., & Hippler, H. J. (1995). The numeric values of rating scales: A comparison of their impact in mail surveys and telephone interviews. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 7(1), 72-74.

Tourangeau, R., & Rasinki, K. A. (1988). Cognitive processes underlying context effects in attitude measurement. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 299-314.

Waples, C. J., Weyhrauch, W. S., Connell, A. R., & Culbertson, S. S. (2010). Questionable defeats and discounted victories for Likert rating scales. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 3(4), 477-480.

Weigel, R. H., & Newman, L. S. (1976).Increasing attitude behavior correspondence by broadening the scope of the behavioral measure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(6), 793-802.

Zaller, J., & Feldman, D. (1992). A simple theory of the survey response: Answering questions versus revealing preferences. American Journal of Political Science, 36(3), 579-616.

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