Essay: Attitude Object Evaluations Current Influences

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[. . .] These temporal standards can coexist with social standards during an appraisal process and often do. Imaginary standards are also commonly used and can be based on fantasy or reality. The expectation that a college football team 'should have' won last Saturday's game because the opposing team had a worse record, may be more fantasy than reality since the opposing team has had a much tougher season schedule.

Factors Influencing Reflective Attitudes

Strack and Deutsch (2004, p. 229) make an assumption in their reflective-impulsive model of appraisal that the behavior schemata activated by an attitude object evaluation is always encoded in the impulsive system, whether the attitude is primarily a product of a reflective or impulsive appraisal. Behavioral schemata in turn represent sensory-motor clusters that frequently co-occur (habits) and can be thought of as long-term behavioral memories. If parts of a behavioral schema are activated by an attitude object, the likelihood that the behavior will be activated increases. Once a threshold level of activation is achieved, the behavior ensues. If multiple schemata are activated, the one that reaches the threshold first is acted out. For example, a dieter may choose to avoid having dessert with their meal if they have the cognitive capacity to control their behavior, but if he or she is still hungry, the urge to splurge may be irresistible. This example represents a conflict between reflective and impulsive appraisals.

Should a person engage in a reflective evaluation of an attitude object, then activation of a behavioral schemata occurs after reflecting on the feasibility of the action and the possibility of a positive outcome (Strack and Deutsch, 2004, p. 230). Strack and Deutsch (2004) discuss at length how a seemingly reasoned action is in fact often corrupted by many irrational factors.

One of the primary corrupting factors is the impulsive appraisal, since an impulsive evaluation is almost always triggered by an attitude object (Strack and Deutsch, 2004, p. 223). The impulsive system is also the default evaluation system when cognitive capacity and/or arousal levels are low, since reflection requires moderate levels of both. However, high levels of arousal seem to promote stereotypical behaviors in response to attitude objects and therefore undermine reflective evaluations. The empirical evidence for the influential role of cognitive capacity and arousal is substantial, and therefore is included in most dualistic models.

Other factors that can favor an impulsive evaluation over a reflective one include a strong deprivation of need and motivational orientation (Strack and Deutsch, 2004, p. 229-230), which were discussed in the previous section. Accessibility to associations and behavioral options will also influence an evaluation. For example, a young athletic person may not notice that a woman walking with a cane across an intersection may run out of time before the light turns green, because the concept of limited physical ability is one infrequently encountered. In contrast, a nurse working in the field of geriatrics would quickly assess the situation and step in to block traffic until the disabled woman has finished crossing the intersection.

The link between reflective evaluations and behavior can also be disrupted if attainment of the goal is blocked or delayed (Strack and Deutsch, 2004, p. 230). In many cases specific conditions must be met before a behavioral schema can be engaged, and when absent can sometimes result in a temporal delay. For example, if a person is craving a sushi, but is short on cash, then satisfaction of this goal will have to await payday. According Strack and Deutsch (2004), the behavioral schemata arrived at through a reflective evaluation is stored until reactivated. These 'intended' behaviors are extinguished once the goal has been fulfilled or no longer sought.

References

Giner-Sorolla, Roger. (2004). Is affective material in attitudes more accessible than cognitive material? The moderating role of attitude basis. European Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 761-780.

Rannazzisi, Danielle Marie. (2009). Appraisal processes and emotion: An examination of the influence of relative standards on the evaluation of negative situations. (Doctoral dissertation).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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