Accentuation Theory, Polarization, and the Judgment of Attitude Statements

  • J. Richard Eiser
  • Joop van der Pligt
Part of the Springer Series in Social Psychology book series (SSSOC)

Abstract

In this chapter we shall be considering what at first sight may seem a phenomenon of limited importance—the tendency of people to make extreme rather than moderate differentiations between statements that express varying viewpoints on an issue. In attempting to explain this tendency, however, we shall mention a number of principles of far wider interest and applicability. Two such principles are of particular importance. The first—accentuation—concerns the tendency of people to group objects of judgment into separate categories, with the effect that the subjective differences between categories are accentuated relative to the differences within them. The second concerns the distinction between the evaluative and descriptive functions of language. The essential idea is that words often do not have single meanings but may fulfill a number of separate functions simultaneously. The same adjective, for instance, can both describe an attribute and communicate approval of the attribute described. These two principles are combined to form an approach that we have identified by the term accentuation theory.

Keywords

Assimilation Sorting Sonal 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Richard Eiser
  • Joop van der Pligt

There are no affiliations available

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