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    Changing Attitudes to Change Negative Behaviours

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    You are asked to conduct a study on attitudes among teenagers who smoke cigarettes, and write a speech alerting them of the risk-taking in cigarette smoking; persuading them to change their attitude toward the behavior. Given this task respond to the following questions:

    What are attitudes and how are they measured. Provide examples.
    How are attitudes changed?
    What impact does persuasion have on changing attitudes?

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    Solution Preview

    You have been asked to conduct a study on the attitudes of teenagers who smoke, and write a speech alerting them to the risk taking in smoking cigarettes; persuading them to change their attitude toward the behavior. Given this task respond to the following questions:

    (1a) What are attitudes, and how are they measured? Provide examples.

    Social researchers concur that attitudes refer to a "General and enduring positive or negative feeling about some person, object, or issue" (e.g., Bem, 1970, Oskamp, 1977 as cited in Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). For example, liking or disliking a person or thing; or having a strong opinion about a social or political issue is an attitude. According to Petty and Cacioppo, an attitude is significant to understand as an important psychological function; and because of the capability of attitudes to predict the behavior of others. For instance, attitudes are an integral part of social interaction. As Petty and Cacioppo point out, attitudes "serve to summarize our beliefs, and allow others to know our expectations".

    Attitudes can also express important aspects of an individual's personality. For instance, in their study, Isbisiten, & Nass (2000) investigated the type of cues or characters needed to exhibit personality based on the way individuals perceived personality in others. That is through verbal and non-verbal cues such as (a) body posture, (b) power, (c) control (d) touch [non-verbal cues]; and verbal cues consisting of: (a) communication, (b) speech, (c) language, and (d) talking. Personalities that include reticent, hesitant gestures and minimum approaches to others display those of the introverted individual. Conversely, the extroverted personality appears more confident, and may use verbal cues that include a style consisting of a choice of words, types of sentences, or fluid speech (Isbisiten & Nass, 2000). The different characteristics, or personality style may provide reasons why some teenagers are compelled to smoke.

    (b) How attitudes are measured.

    Based on data presented in research projects, procedures for measuring attitudes can be divided into two major categories--direct ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution is focused on attitudes that underpin negative behaviors such as cigarette smoking. The aim of the solution is to understand the significance of studying attitudes aimed at changing bad, or destructive behaviors. Theories are presented showing how attitudes are both measured and changed. It further details the extent to which persuasive intent can have an impact on changing attitudes.