Discussion: Recognizing the Connection Between Job Attitudes, Individual Performance, and Organizational Effectiveness

AII/lu. Rev. Psychol. 1993. 44: 117-54
Copyright © 1993 by Annual Reviews Inc.

ATTITUDES AND ATTITUDE

CHANGE

James M. Ols on

Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
N6A5C2

Mark P. Zanna

Department of Psychology , University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G 1

KEYWORDS: persuasion, beliefs, prejudice, stereotypes, values

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 118

ATTITUDE STRUCTURE …………………………………………………………………………………………. 118

Definitions of Attitude……………………….. ………………………. …………………………… I 19
Affective, Cognitive, and Behavioral Correlates of Attitudes………………………… 120
Attitude Attributes……………………………………………………………………………………. 122
Meas urement of Attitudes …… …. ……….. ….. .. ………. ….. ….. …. .. … ……… .. … ….. ….. . .. . 123

VALUES AND ATTITUDES ……………………………………………………………………………………… 125

Value-Attitude Relations…………………………………………………………………………… 125
Functions of Attitudes: Value Expression Versus Object Appraisal………………. 125

ATTITUDE FORMATION …………………………………………………………………………………………. 127
Conditioning of Attitudes ….. ………… ……… …………. ……. .. ………… ………….. ……….. 127
Heritability of Attitudes ……….. …….. .. ……….. …… ….. …. .. … .. …….. …. … .. …… .. … …… 128

ATTITUDES AND INFORMATION-PROCESSING ……………………………………………………. 129
Selective Interpretation .. ……. .. …………. ……….. ………. …. .. . ….. … .. .. … …. ….. .. …. …. .. 129
Selective Memory . …….. … …….. .. ………. …….. …. . …….. ….. ……. …. . . … .. .. .. . . .. …….. … … 130

ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS ……………………………………………………………………………….. 131
Theory of Reas oned Action ……………… …. ……………. ………………… ……. …………. … 131
Alternative Models of the Attitude-Behavior Relation………………………………….. 132
Effects of Behavior on Attitudes .. ……. . .. ….. … .. . .. .. …… . . .. .. .. .. .. .. ….. .. … … .. … …… . . .. 133

PERSUASION ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……… ………….. 135

Elaboration-Likelihood and Heuristic-Systematic Models of Persuasion …. … .. . 135
Mes sage Reception …… ………… … .. ……………. ………… …… .. …. …… ……… .. …… .. …… . 136

0066-4308/93/1201-0117$02.00
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118 OLSON & ZANNA

Source Characteristics …………………….. ……………………………………………………… 138
Message Characteristics …… …………………………………… ……………………………. . . .. 138
Recipient Characteristics…………………………………………………………………………. 140

STEREOTYPES AND PREJUDICE ………. …………………………………………… . ………….. . . ………. 14 1
Stereotypes …………………………… . ……………………………………………………………….. 141
Prejudice ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 143

CONCLUSIONS ………………. … ……………………… ………………….. .. “”””””””’ …. , ……….. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

INTRODUCTION

Attitudes and attitude change remain among the most extensively researched
topics by social psychologists. Our task is to review the attitudes literature
from 1989 to 1991. Some papers published or in press early in 1992 (prior to
the due date for our manuscript) are also included.

We were overwhelmed by the number of articles and chapters on attitudes
that appeared in the three-year period of our review. We were forced to
exclude several hundred relevant papers to meet space limitations. For exam­
ple, we excluded many fascinating applications of attitudes research to social
problems (e.g. health promotion; effects of salient events on attitudes). We
also excluded studies that focused on advertising and research examining the
influence of the media on attitudes and behaviors. Studies of group influence
(e.g. minority influence), intergroup relations (e.g. social identity theory), and
self-presentation were also largely excluded despite their relevance to attitude
processes; some of these topics have been reviewed recently elsewhere in this
series (e.g. Schlenker & Weigold 1992). Even with these exclusions, we had to
be highly selective in citing the relevant articles that remained. We focused on
the papers that we found most interesting, provocative, and informative about
underlying processes.

The level of activity in the attitudes literature is underscored by the number
of books that have appeared recently. In addition to numerous texts for under­
graduates (e.g. Milburn 1991; O’ Keefe 1990; Oskamp 1991; Rajecki 1990;
Reardon 1991; Zimbardo & Leippe 1991), specialized books have appeared
on attitude measures (Robinson et al 1991), social judgment (Eiser 1990),
propaganda (Pratkanis & Aronson 1991), and prejudice (Mackie & Hamilton
1992; Zanna & Olson 1992). The most noteworthy addition to the literature is
an extraordinary book by Eagly & Chaiken (1992), which provides a com­
prehensive review and analysis of the attitudes literature; we refer readers to
this scholarly book for elaboration of many issues raised in our review.

ATTITUDE STRUCTURE

In the last decade, structural issues have become a central interest of attitude
researchers (see McGuire 1985; Pratkanis et al 1989), as indicated by the
emergence of sections on attitude structure in the two preceding reviews of
attitudes published in this series (Chaiken & Stangor 1987; Tesser & Shaffer

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AITITUDES 119

1990). Although a few researchers have examined how attitudes toward differ­
ent topics are interrelated (e.g. the relationship of political expertise and con­
sistency among political attitudes: see Judd & Downing 1990), attention has
focused on questions of intra-attitudinal structure.

Definiti ons of Attitude

The most basic structural question about attitudes concerns the nature of the
concept itself. Despite the long history of research on attitudes, there is no
universally agreed-upon definition. Influential theorists variously define
attitudes primarily in terms of evaluation (e.g. “a psychological tendency that
is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or

disfavor,” Eagly & Chaiken 1992), affect (e.g. “the affect associated with a
mental object,” Greenwald 1989 p. 432), cognition (e.g. “a special type of
knowledge, notably knowledge of which content is evaluative or affective,”

Kruglanski 1989 p. 139), and behavioral predispositions (e.g. “a state of a
person that predisposes a favorable or unfavorable response to an object,

person, or idea” Triandis 1991 p. 485).

Notwithstanding these differences, we think that most attitude theorists
agree that (a) evaluation constitutes a central, perhaps predominant, aspect of
attitudes, (b) attitudes are represented in memory, and (c) affective, cognitive,
and behavioral antecedents of attitudes can be distinguished, as can affective,
cognitive, and behavioral consequences of attitudes.

A TIITUDES AS EV ALUA nONS Most theorists implicate evaluation in their
definitions of attitudes. Eagly & Chaiken (1992) argue that attitudes do not form
until individuals respond evaluatively to an entity and that, once formed,
attitudes predispose evaluative responses when the attitude object is subse­
quently encountered. Eagly & Chaiken also note that evaluative responses can
be overt or covert and cognitive, affective, or behavioral.

ATTITUDES AS REPRESENTATIONS IN MEMORY A second common assumption
among attitude researchers is that attitudes are represented in memory. For
example, attitudes have been characterized as knowledge structures (e.g. An­
derson & Armstrong 1989; Kruglanski 1989) and as associative networks of
interconnected evaluations and beliefs (e.g. Fazio 1990; Pratkanis & Greenwald
1989). These perspectives imply that elicitation of one attitude or belief will
make closely related attitudes and beliefs more accessible through a process of
spreading activation. In a clever demonstration of this idea, Tourangeau et al
(1991) timed respondents as they indicated agreement or disagreement with
statements about abortion and welfare. These statements had previously been
scaled for their topical similarity (reflecting similarity on dimensions indepen­
dent of evaluation). Agree/disagree judgments were faster when an item fol­
lowed a topically related item.

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120 OLSON & ZANNA

One model that nicely integrates the representational and evaluative fea­

tures of attitudes is the sociocognitive model proposed by Pratkanis &

Greenwald (1989). According to these authors, an attitude is represented in

memory by (a) an object label, (b) an evaluative summary, and (c) a knowl­

edge structure supporting the evaluation. Using principles of social cognition,

Pratkanis & Greenwald describe how attitudes provide simple strategies for
problem-solving, organize memory for events, and maintain self-worth. These
authors view attitudes as cognitive representations of evaluations, which serve
a fundamental role in relating an individual to the social world.

Breckler & Wiggins (1989a) define attitudes explicitly as “mental and
neural representations.” They point out that representations take various forms
and that the same object can be represented in multiple ways. For example, an
individual’s attitude toward sour milk consists of verbal knowledge (e.g. eval­

uative words and labels) and nonverbal responses to the olfactory stimulation
of sour milk itself; these components may be stored in distinct symbolic

systems. This representational perspective underscores that verbal, self-report

measures of attitudes may not capture the full range of the concept, especially

its nonverbal (often affective) component.

Affective, Cognitive, and Behavioral Correlates of Attitudes

The tripartite view of attitude£ has been influential from the very beginning of
research on this concept (see McGuire 1985). Rather than assuming that all
attitudes necessarily have affective, cognitive, and behavioral components,
however, recent researchers have focused on these domains as correlates of
attitudes. For example, Zanna & Rempel (1988) argued that attitudes can be
based upon, or develop from, affective information (as in the case of condi­
tioning), cognitive information (as in the case of knowledge-based evalua­

tions), and behavioral information (as in the case of self-perception inferences

from prior actions). Eagly & Chaiken (1992) explain how attitudes can gener­
ate affective responses (e.g. liking for an object), cognitive responses (e.g.

attributions for the target’s actions), and behavioral responses (e.g. overt ac­
tions toward the target).

Thus, the affective-cognitive-behavioral framework provides a useful heu­

ristic for thinking about both the antecedents and consequences of attitudes,
but these domains will not necessarily all apply to a given attitude. Indeed,
consistency among affective, cognitive, and behavioral correlates of attitudes

is an empirical issue.

EVALUATION VERSUS AFFECT IN ATTITUDES Breckler & Wiggins ( 1989b,
1991) have distinguished between affect and evaluation in the structure of

attitudes. Their procedure involves asking subjects to rate the attitude object on
a series of bipolar adjective scales (e.g. bad/good, wise/foolish), once according
to how the object makes them feel (“affect”) and once according to how the

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ATIITUDES 1 2 1

object is (“evaluation,” though based principally o n cognitive beliefs about the
object). These ratings do not yield equivalent values. Rather, affect and evalu­
ation correlate uniquely with self-ratings of liking for the object (which Breckler
& Wiggins call the global attitude). Also, affect sometimes does a better job of
predicting self-report behaviors than does evaluation (e.g. in the domain of
blood donation). The authors conclude from their studies that affect and evalu­
ation constitute distinct attitude components.

We prefer to maintain the view of attitudes as evaluative judgments that are
stored in memory (as previously articulated), of which affect is one possible
source. Nevertheless, Breckler & Wiggins have identified attitude domains
where overall evaluations do not fully capture subjects’ affective reactions to
the objects. Because affect can drive psychological processes and behavior, it
has unique predictive utility beyond summary evaluative judgments in these
domains.

AFFECT VERSUS COGNITION IN ATTITUDES Whether attitudes are based on
affective or cognitive information seems to be important. Edwards (1990)
induced subjects to form either affect-based or cognition-based attitudes, for
example by having subjects either taste a new soft drink before reading about
its features or read about the features before tasting it. Subjects were then
exposed either to an affective or a cognitive means of persuasion, for example
the drink’s mildly aversive odor or a written description of several negative
features of the drink. For affect-based attitudes, subjects showed more attitude
change when the persuasive appeal employed an affective approach; cognition­
based attitudes were equally influenced by each type of appeal. In contrast to

these findings, Millar & Millar (1990) classified subjects as possessing either
affect-based or cognition-based attitudes (e.g. liking a beverage because it
makes you feel refreshed vs liking it because it is low in calories) and found that
persuasive appeals were more effective when they adopted the perspective that
did not match the presumed basis of the attitude (e.g. when an affective appeal
attacked a cognition-based attitude).

Two methodological differences between these studies seem most pertinent
to explaining the divergent results. First, Millar & Millar studied relatively
well-formed attitudes; hence, subjects were probably able to counterargue
more effectively messages that matched their attitude than mismatched mes­
sages. Second, the appeals used by Millar & Millar were all argument-based,
providing information either about others’ emotional or rational reactions to
the object; these authors did not give subjects a new, personal affective experi­
ence concerning the object (as Edwards did when she exposed subjects to an
aversive odor). Combining these points, we suspect that, for well-established
attitudes, rational and emotional arguments will yield “mismatch” effects (as
in Millar & Millar 1990). On the other hand, new affective experiences will be
generally powerful sources of influence, perhaps especially for affect-based
attitudes (as in Edwards 1990).

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122 OLSON & ZANNA

Another issue related to the distinction between affect-based and cognition­
based attitudes, which again has generated apparently divergent results, con­

cerns the effects of introspection on attitude-behavior consistency. Wilson and
colleagues (Wilson 1990; Wilson et al 1989) have shown that asking subjects
to think about the reasons for their attitudes produces attitude expressions that
are less predictive of behavior. In contrast, Millar, Tesser, and colleagues (e.g.

Millar & Tesser 1989; Tesser et al 1992) have found that asking subjects to
think about their attitudes can produce more confident and extreme attitudes,
which seem to predict behavior better. Of course, thinking about the reasons
underlying one’s attitude is not the same as thinking about one’s attitude; the
former instructions can bring to mind incomplete or inaccurate explanations

that induce temporary shifts of opinion (Wilson 1990), whereas the latter
instructions may evoke attitude-consistent thoughts that polarize evaluations,
especially when underlying values are consistent with the attitude (Liberman

& Chaiken 1991). Also, when the relevant behaviors are “consummatory”
(driven by feelings and emotions) rather than “instrumental” (driven by cogni­
tions), thinking about the reasons underlying one’s attitudes might be espe­
cially disruptive of attitude-behavior consistency (Millar & Tesser 1992).

Attitude Attributes

Several characteristics of attitudes have been shown to be associated with
noteworthy effects, such as biased interpretation of attitude-relevant informa­
tion, resistance to persuasion, and strong prediction of behavior.

ACCESSIBILITY Fazio and colleagues (see Fazio 1990 for a review) have
collected data showing that the ease or speed with which evaluations can be
retrieved from memory predicts the influence of those attitudes on subsequent
perceptions of and actions toward the attitude object. Highly accessible attitudes
are more likely to bias interpretation of relevant information and shape behavior
in a direction consistent with the attitude.

Fazio argues that when object-evaluation associations are strong, the mere
presentation of the attitude object can automatically activate the evaluation.
For example, he has used a priming paradigm to show that the presentation of
highly accessible attitude objects makes subsequent judgments about
evaluative1y congruent adjectives faster. Recently, Bargh et al ( 1992) found
that the strength of this automatic acti vation effect correlated not only with the
accessibility of an attitude for a particular individual, but also with the norma­
tive accessibility of an attitude across subjects (i.e. with the mean latency of all
subjects’ responses to an attitude item). These findings may reflect, however,
the covariation of normative and idiosyncratic accessibility (see Fazio 1992).

STRENGTH Attitude strength has been increasingly studied over the last few
years, as indicated by the forthcoming volume on this topic edited by Petty &

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ATIITUDES 123

Krosnick (1992). Strong attitudes serve as important sources of identity, resist
most attempts at change, and exert widespread effects on perception and
behavior. Krosnick & Abelson (1992) argue cogently that strength should be
routinely measured in attitudes research. These authors review research on five
dimensions that presumably reflect attitude strength: extremity, intensity, cer­
tainty, importance, and knowledge. Attitude strength has also been related to
accessibility: Krosnick (1989) found that attitudes that people consider person­
ally important are reported more quickly than unimportant attitudes. Of course,
whether importance underlies accessibility or vice versa is unclear.

AMBIVALENCE Ambivalent attitudes are conflicted evaluations-attitudes that
contain both positive and negative elements. To the extent that positive and
negative elements are equal and extreme, greater ambivalence is present (see
Thompson et al 1992). In an interesting program of research, Katz and col­
leagues (e.g. Hass et a11991; Katz & Hass 1988) studied the consequences of
ambivalent racial attitudes. These authors propose that many members of
majority groups have conflicting attitudes toward minorities, consisting of
feelings of both aversion and friendly concern. Consequently, majority group
evaluations of minority group members tend to be more polarized (both posi­
tively and negatively) than evaluations of their own members. Hass et al (1991)
found that, indeed, a measure of attitude ambivalence predicted polarized
cross-racial evaluations.

Measurement of Attitudes

The most common technique for measuring attitudes continues to be global
self-reports, such as ratings of the attitude object on bipolar evaluative dimen­
sions (good-bad, favorable-unfavorable, etc). An excellent summary of
attitude measurement techniques is provided by Himmelfarb (1992). Attitude
researchers are also employing varied methodologies to test theories, includ­
ing meta-analytic techniques (e.g. Johnson & Eagly 1989) and computer simu­
lation (e.g. Nowak et aI1990). In a cogent critique of the use of multiplicative
composites, Evans (1991) pointed out that tests of theoretical models contain­
ing multiplicative terms should not use those composites in subsequent corre­
lational analyses. For example, tests of Fishbein & Ajzen’s 1975 theory of
reasoned action (where attitudes are expectancy-value products) should enter
the components of the attitudes into hierarchical regression analyses to predict
subsequent variables (e.g. behavioral intentions).

NEW TECHNIQUES Several new techniques for measuring attitudes have ap­
peared recently. Bassili & Fletcher (1991) designed a methodology for record­
ing response times in telephone interviews, which holds promise for assessing
such qualities as attitude accessibility. Methods that allow for tailored or
individually adapted surveys have also been introduced (Balasubramanian &

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124 OLSON & ZANNA

Kamakura 1989 ; Singh et aI199 0), which pose only those scale items that are
most informative about respondents’ attitudes, thereby maximizing both the
efficiency and quality of the survey. Indirect assessments of attitudes, such as
implicit measures of memory, can document both conscious and unconscious
effects of attitudes (B anaji & Greenwald 1992 ; Dovidio & Fazio 1992 ).

In the psychophysiological domain, Cacioppo and colleagues (Cacioppo et

al 1989 ; Cacioppo & Tassinary 199 0) continue their innovative work on

physiological manifestations of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With re­

spect to attitudes, these researchers have focused on facial EMG in structured

situations as a means of assessing individuals’ affective and evaluative re­

sponses.

RESPONSE EFFECTS Respondents’ answers to attitude and opinion items in
surveys are influenced by a variety of methodological factors. Perhaps most
obviously, the way questions are worded can affect responses. Relatively minor
variations in question wording have been shown to substantially alter expressed
support for such issues as government spending (Rasinski 1989 ) and treatment
of criminals (Zamble & Kalm 199 0). The response scales offered to subjects
can also influence their answers. For example, Gray (1990) found much greater
belief in scientifically unsubstantiated phenomena when subj ects were asked to
rate the degree of their belief or unbelief in each phenomenon than when they
were asked to indicate with checkmarks those phenomena they believed in.
Schwarz (199 0) has outlined several ways that response categories constitute a
source of information for respondents, including providing a frame of reference
for judgments.

Answers to an item can also be affected by the preceding items. Question

order or context effects have received much attention recently, often within

the framework of either social judgment theory (see Sarup et al 1991 for an

interesting test of this theory) or representational network models of attitude

structure (Ottati et al 1989; Tourangeau et al 1989). For example, Schwarz and

colleagues (e.g. Schwarz et al199 0; Schwarz et al1991 b) have studied assim­

ilation and contrast effects in attitude measurement. When preceding questions

in a survey activate information that is part of the relevant information for

answering a current question (e.g. when judgments of present marital satisfac­

tion precede judgments of present life satisfaction), then assimilation typically

occurs, such that answers to the current question move in the direction of

answers to the preceding question. On the other hand, when information

activated by a prior question is outside of the data relevant to the current

question (e.g. when judgments of life satisfaction 1 0 years ago precede judg­

ments of present life satisfaction), then contrast effects can occur, because the

activated information serves as a standard of comparison or reference point for

anchoring the response scale.

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ATTITUDES 125

VALUES AND ATIITUDES

Value-Attitude Relati ons

Values are generally conceptualized as higher-order evaluative standards, re­
ferring to desirable means and ends of action (e.g. Rokeach 1973). As such,
values are viewed as potential determinants of preferences and attitudes. For
example, values have been shown to predict attitudes toward nuclear weapons
(Kristiansen & Matheson 1990), attitudes toward the unemployed (Heaven
1990), and beliefs in a just world (Feather 1991).

If values are abstract standards, then their influence on behavior may typi­
cally be mediated by more proximal factors. Using an expectancy-value
framework, Feather ( 1990) has provided data suggesting that values affect
behavior by influencing individuals’ evaluations of the consequences of ac­
tions. Values can influence perceived valences both of alternative ways of
behaving and of expected outcomes of the actions.

The best-known scale for measuring values is the Rokeach Value Survey
(Rokeach 1973), which distinguishes between instrumental and terminal val­
ues (see Crosby et al 1990 for a recent factor analysis of the RVS). Schwartz
and colleagues (Schwartz & Bilsky 1990; Schwartz et al 1992) have devel­
oped a comprehensive value survey that distinguishes broad content domains
of values (e.g. achievement, security, conformity). Research in 20 countries
has provided evidence of cross-cultural generality for 10 of the content do­
mains. Also, analyses indicate that two fundamental dimensions underlie the
content domains: openness to change versus conservation (whether the values
motivate behavior along unpredictable vs predictable paths) and self-enhance­
ment versus self-transcendence (whether the values motivate self-interested
actions or promote the welfare of others; see also Triandis et al 1990). Interest­
ingly’ Rokeach’s distinction between instrumental and terminal values (means
vs ends) has not emerged as an underlying dimension in Schwartz’s research.

Functi ons of Attitudes: Value Expression Versus Object
Appraisal

A theoretical approach that explicitly addresses the connection between values
and attitudes is the functional view of attitudes. From this perspective,
attitudes fulfill psychological needs for the individual. Two primary …

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