The Psychology of Attitude Change

  • Terence H. Qualter


Once we accept that a good deal of our social behaviour is rooted in habitual attitudinal responses, and that those attitudes in turn are largely constructed from inaccurate or incomplete stereotypes of reality, we must begin to examine, first, how the original pattern of attitudes is established, and second, how it might be modified or maintained. While we commonly refer to attitude formation and change, it would be wrong to assume that these are separate processes or stages in the emergence of attitudes. ‘All the time as part of our social development we are adopting new attitudes, modifying and relinquishing old ones.’1 Attitude change

thus embraces the conditions under which such dispositions are initially formed and subsequently modified in the course of a person’s transactions with his physical, social, and informational environment. It includes changes both in relatively superficial and specific matters of ‘opinion’ and deep-seated sentiments or ‘cathexes’ that are properly regarded as constitutive of personality, changes that occur in the natural course of maturation and experience as well as those that result from exposure to deliberate persuasion or propaganda.2


Attitude Change Cognitive Dissonance Opinion Control Attitude Formation Authoritarian Personal 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    M. B. Smith, ‘Attitude Change’, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 1968, Vol. I, 458.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Leo Bogart, ‘No Opinion, Don’t Know, and May be No Answer’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 31, 1967, 344.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    H. D. Lasswell, ‘The Theory of Political Propaganda’, American Political Science Review, 21, 1927, 630.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Roberta Sigel, ‘Assumptions About the Learning of Political Values’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 361, 1965, 7.Google Scholar
  5. 21.
    See J. D. Halloran, Attitude Formation and Change, 1967, 11. H.J. Eysenck, The Psychology of Politics, 1954, and T. F. Pettigrew, ‘Personality and Sociocultural Factors in Intergroup Attitudes’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2, 1958, 29–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 23.
    Note Herbert McGlosky, ‘Conservatism and Personality’, American Political Science Review, 52, 1958, 27–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 27.
    L. J. Martin, ‘Effectiveness of International Propaganda’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 398, 1971, 69.Google Scholar
  8. 35.
    See P. E. Converse, ‘Information Flow and the Stability of Partisan Attitudes’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 26, 1962, 578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 41.
    Leo Bogart, ‘No Opinion, Don’t Know, and Maybe No Answer’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 31, 1967, 344Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Terence H. Qualter 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence H. Qualter
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WaterlooCanada

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