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Choose one of the following areas of social psychology and, with reference to previous studies, discuss the conceptual and methodological issues which you feel future research in that area needs to address: Attitudes.

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Choose one of the following areas of social psychology and, with reference to previous studies, discuss the conceptual and methodological issues which you feel future research in that area needs to address: Attitudes Baron and Byrne (2002) define attitude as an individuals attempt to evaluate the social world in which they live in. To translate this further Tesser and Martin (1996) suggested it is one's behavioural reaction to specific issues (social groups, ideas, people, objects etc), which are favourable or un-favourable (Baron and Byrne, 2002, p.118.) During this essay one will analyze how previous social research has evaluated behavioural attitudes, and whether there are methodological issues involved when theorists have tried to establish the correct format of measurement of attitudes. Social definitions of attitude have been an important aspect of the development of social psychology. Theorists have tried and tested and evaluated many different components that are thought to be responsible for defining attitude. Rosenberg and Holland (1960) tripartite model suggested there are three factors, thought to have some importance when measuring attitude: cognitive, emotions and behaviour. Cognitive aspects refer to the individual's perceptual processes, verbal statements and beliefs; Emotions are an important fact as this refers to one's sympathetic nervous system, responses e.g. how one feels; Behaviour refers to a persons overt responses towards someone or thing, these are either positive or negative behavioural attitudes (Lecture notes wk 7.) ...read more.


Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) presented participants with a dull and boring task, where each participant had to place a vast quantity of spools onto pegs onto a board. After turning each spool quarterly they were asked to remove the pegs from the board then replace them again. Participant's attitudes via this point were strongly negative. All participants were asked by the researcher to encourage another participant to take part in the procedure via falsely proclaiming their interest. Unbeknown to the participants there were variations in how much they were paid, some were paid $20 and others $1. Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) concluded that almost all participants agreed to carryout the task of persuading other participants to take part. Obviously there was a discrepancy involved here which evolved around the payment of money especially for those who were paid $1. Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) noted that individuals who were paid $1 displayed more dissonance compared to the control group and those paid $20. When asked why they changed their attitude towards the task the participants who had been paid $1 suggested they had enjoyed the task. This research alone suggests how individuals will rationalize their behavioural attitude to fit in with others. Lesko (1994) noted that it was bizarre how an individual's behaviour can change without affecting one's attitude. He went on to state that the very nature of attitude cannot be revoked once it has already been established (Lesko, 1994, p.114.) ...read more.


Plus Maslow (1968) stressed that humanistic therapists needed to understand the person as a whole, not each separate bit of behaviour, as suggested via cognitive models. Rogers (1951) later recognised the importance of measuring behavioural attitudes it is here that he developed the Q-sorts methodology. This technique alone has enabled many social psychologists to study human behaviour, attitudes, environmental interactions and many other areas that have enhanced one's understanding of behavioural relationships. (Gross, 2001, pp.19-20.) In conclusion one has recognised the importance of choosing the correct methodological procedure to measure behavioural attitudes. Past research has identified the different issues that can occur if one does not apply the measurement in the correct way. Future research therefore needs to take into account the very nature of behavioural attitudes, and the external factors that can attribute to ones attitude and beliefs. After all social psychology research has enabled us to understand and assist individuals with addictions, phobias, and health issues. Reference Baron, R.A. & Byrne, D. (2002) Social Psychology, 10th edition. London: Allon and Bacon publishers. Brigham, J. C. & Wrightman, L.S. (1982) Contempory Issues in Social Psychology, 4th edition. United States of America: Brooks/Cole publishers. Elser, J.R. (1986) Social Psychology Attitudes, Cognition and Social Behaviour. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press. Gross, R. (2001) Psychology the Science of Mind and Behaviuor, 4th edition. London: Hodden & Stoughton. Hewstone, M. & Stroebe, N.(2001) Introduction to Social Psychology, 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell publishers. Lecture. Week 7, Dr Ewart, (2004) Attitude and Behaviour. Lesko, W.A. (1994) Readings in Social Psychology, 2nd edition. London: Allyn and Bacon Press. Linda Wade Page 1 5/4/2007 ...read more.

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