Cognitive Processes in Attitude Formation and Change

Authored by: Duane T. Wegener , Donal E. Carlston

The Handbook of Attitudes

Print publication date:  April  2005
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780805844924
eBook ISBN: 9781410612823
Adobe ISBN: 9781135626174


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One could argue that cognitive process has been at the heart of research on attitudes virtually since that research began (e.g., Thurstone, 1928; Peterson & Thurstone, 1933). With the advent of the social cognition movement, the concept of what qualifies as "cognition" has undergone considerable development, but the centrality of cognition to studies of attitude formation and change remains. This centrality is evident even though recent studies of attitude change have more thoroughly incorporated concepts such as motivation and affect than was true when social cognition researchers focused almost exclusively on "cold" cognition. We lay the groundwork for our chapter by clarifying definitions associated with the terms "attitude," "cognition," and "process," Then, we review and organize the specific types of cognitive processes that have been studied in attitude formation and change. Our goal in doing so is not only to cover both classic and recent approaches to attitudinal processes, but also to address central issues about the definition and nature of such processes.

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