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Attitudes as attractors: Toward dynamical systems of beliefs and values

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Date Issued:
2002
Summary:
This study assessed whether dynamical properties of attitudes can be used to predict attitude change. In social psychology, attitudes have been defined as dispositions that are stable over time but also as mental states that are malleable in response to external influences. To solve this paradox, I proposed that attitudes should be conceptualized as fixed-point attractors for momentary evaluations that fluctuate over time. In dynamical systems, an attractor corresponds to a stable equilibrium toward which a system evolves. This conceptualization allows us to distinguish attitudes that are rather stable in a short time frame from momentary evaluations that fluctuate over time due to noise and external influence. To investigate this conceptualization, I utilized the mouse paradigm (Vallacher & Nowak, 1994) to assess momentary evaluation. A procedure developed by Johnson & Nowak (2002) was adopted to calculate an instability index and to identify the number of attractors in participants' mouse-generated trajectories of momentary evaluation. As attitude topics, I employed behaviors that are considered either acceptable or unacceptable by the majority of society. The majority viewpoint (i.e., normative attitude) for each behavior was assumed to function as a stable fixed-point attractor. The results supported this claim. Participants' attitudes tended to shift toward the normative behavior-specific attractor over time. When the initial attitudes were congruent with the norm, moreover, participants with multiple attractors showed greater attitude change than did those with a single attractor. A system with a single attractor can be stabilized only at that attractor whereas a system with multiple attractors can be stabilized at more than one equilibrium. Further research is recommended to determine whether the number of attractors is meaningfully related to other attitude properties (e.g., complexity or ambiguity). Future research is also recommended to refine the attractor methodology introduced in this study and to assess its generality.
Title: Attitudes as attractors: Toward dynamical systems of beliefs and values.
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Name(s): Morio, Hiroaki
Florida Atlantic University, Degree Grantor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Department of Psychology
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2002
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 89 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: This study assessed whether dynamical properties of attitudes can be used to predict attitude change. In social psychology, attitudes have been defined as dispositions that are stable over time but also as mental states that are malleable in response to external influences. To solve this paradox, I proposed that attitudes should be conceptualized as fixed-point attractors for momentary evaluations that fluctuate over time. In dynamical systems, an attractor corresponds to a stable equilibrium toward which a system evolves. This conceptualization allows us to distinguish attitudes that are rather stable in a short time frame from momentary evaluations that fluctuate over time due to noise and external influence. To investigate this conceptualization, I utilized the mouse paradigm (Vallacher & Nowak, 1994) to assess momentary evaluation. A procedure developed by Johnson & Nowak (2002) was adopted to calculate an instability index and to identify the number of attractors in participants' mouse-generated trajectories of momentary evaluation. As attitude topics, I employed behaviors that are considered either acceptable or unacceptable by the majority of society. The majority viewpoint (i.e., normative attitude) for each behavior was assumed to function as a stable fixed-point attractor. The results supported this claim. Participants' attitudes tended to shift toward the normative behavior-specific attractor over time. When the initial attitudes were congruent with the norm, moreover, participants with multiple attractors showed greater attitude change than did those with a single attractor. A system with a single attractor can be stabilized only at that attractor whereas a system with multiple attractors can be stabilized at more than one equilibrium. Further research is recommended to determine whether the number of attractors is meaningfully related to other attitude properties (e.g., complexity or ambiguity). Future research is also recommended to refine the attractor methodology introduced in this study and to assess its generality.
Identifier: 9780493771144 (isbn), 12006 (digitool), FADT12006 (IID), fau:8921 (fedora)
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Adviser: Andrzej Nowak.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2002.
Subject(s): Psychology, Social
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/12006
Sublocation: Digital Library
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author, with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Owner Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.