Issues of attitudes and attitude change are the foundation of many social processes. Psychologists have long sought to understand people’s opinions and evaluations and many studies have sought to understand how, why, and when those attitudes change in the face of persuasive communication. Early persuasion research identified many variables that influence the effectiveness of persuasive messages. These variables include characteristics of the communicator, the recipient, and the message itself. Over the years, however, the evidence for these influences became rather mixed, prompting a new generation of persuasion psychologists to ask whether there was a sensible pattern underlying it. This question ushered in several new approaches to thinking about persuasion. These “dual process” models proposed key moderators, identifying the conditions under which certain variables would and would not produce attitude change. A particularly influential model has been the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), which proposed that the audience’s motivation and ability to think deeply about a persuasive message determines how much a given characteristic of that message will change the audience’s attitude. Other models, such as the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM), have contributed additional insights about the “when” and “why” of attitude change. In sum, these nuanced accounts of attitude change have been demonstrated time and again across cultures and topics of persuasion.
Pablo Briñol, Richard E. Petty, and Joshua J Guyer
The history of attitudes research can be organized into three main sections covering attitude definition and measurement, attitude-behavior relationships, and attitude change. First, an evaluation of the history of attitude measurement reveals three relatively distinct phases: an early phase in which the classic direct self-report procedures were developed, a middle phase focused on “indirect” assessment devices, and a modern phase in which various measures designed to capture people’s automatic or “implicit” attitudes have flourished. Second, the history of attitude-behavior correspondence can be organized also around three broad themes: an early period in which the presumed close association between attitudes and behaviors was largely an article of faith; a middle period in which some researchers concluded that little, if any, relationship existed between measures of attitudes and overt behaviors; and a more recent period in which the resolution of prior issues stimulated an explosion of research focused on identifying the moderators and psychological mechanisms responsible for attitude-behavior correspondence. Finally, the history of research and ideas regarding attitude change and persuasion can be organized around several prominent theories focused on distinct single processes, dual processes, or multiple processes, each of which are still used by contemporary attitudes researchers.
Ideology is a recurrent feature of human societies. Ideologies provide people with frameworks to evaluate the relative legitimacy of different approaches to social order. Such ideologies often involve an opposition between right-leaning ideologies, which tend to justify and maintain the traditional order, and left-leaning ideologies, which advocate for systemic reforms to reduce hierarchies. Social psychological investigations of ideology explore the root motivations and moral foundations of people’s attraction to left versus right ideologies. In particular, such work focuses on understanding the motivational dynamics of ideologies that justify the status quo, promote authoritarian control, and rationalize social dominance hierarchies. Social psychological research also investigates information-processing biases that increase the polarization between left and right. These insights can be applied to bridge divides within ideologically polarized communities.
Claudio Robazza and Montse C. Ruiz
Emotions are multifaceted subjective feelings that reflect expected, current, or past interactions with the environment. They involve sets of interrelated psychological processes, encompassing affective, cognitive, motivational, physiological, and expressive or behavioral components. Emotions play a fundamental role in human adaptation and performance by improving sensory intake, detection of relevant stimuli, readiness for behavioral responses, decision-making, memory, and interpersonal interactions. These beneficial effects enhance human health and performance in any endeavor, including sport, work, and the arts. However, emotions can also be maladaptive. Their beneficial or maladaptive effects depend on their content, time of occurrence, and intensity level. Emotional self-regulation refers to the processes by which individuals modify the type, quality, time course, and intensity of their emotions. Individuals attempt to regulate their emotions to attain beneficial effects, to deal with unfavorable circumstances, or both. Emotional self-regulation occurs when persons monitor the emotions they are experiencing and try to modify or maintain them. It can be automatic or effortful, conscious or unconscious. The process model of emotion regulation provides a framework for the classification of antecedent- and response-focused regulation processes. These processes are categorized according to the point at which they have their primary impact in the emotion generative process: situation selection (e.g., confrontation and avoidance), situation modification (e.g., direct situation modification, support-seeking, and conflict resolution), attentional deployment (e.g., distraction, concentration, and mindfulness), cognitive change (e.g., self-efficacy appraisals, challenge/threat appraisals, positive reappraisal, and acceptance), and response modulation (e.g., regulation of experience, arousal regulation, and expressive suppression). In addition to the process model of emotion regulation, other prominent approaches provide useful insights to the study of adaptation and self-regulation for performance enhancement. These include the strength model of self-control, the dual-process theories, the biopsychosocial model, the attentional control theory, and the individual zones of optimal functioning model. Based on the latter model, emotion-centered and action-centered interrelated strategies have been proposed for self-regulation in sport. Within this framework, performers identify, regulate, and optimize their functional and dysfunctional emotions and their most relevant components of functional performance patterns.
Thomas F. Pettigrew
Prejudice, especially intergroup prejudice, has long been a central topic of social psychology. The discipline has sought to be both socially relevant and useful. Thus, theory and research on prejudice fits directly into these central concerns of the discipline. The study of this topic has developed in direct correspondence with how social psychology itself has been able to devise new theoretical and empirical tools—from self-administered questionnaires and probability sample surveys to laboratory experiments and computer-assisted methods. Given the discipline’s intense research interest in intergroup prejudice, it is not surprising that that there is a plethora of theories concerning prejudice. But these many theories tend not to conflict with one another. Rather, they typically coalesce around interrelated themes across three levels of analysis. The micro level of the attitudes of individuals was the primary focus for the first half-century of modern social psychology (1920–1970). Slowly, the field turned its attention to the meso level of intergroup interaction and how such contact influenced intergroup prejudice and discrimination. Finally, the discipline began to consider more systematically the many relevant structural and cultural factors at the macro level of analysis and how they shaped both intergroup prejudice and discrimination. With time, direct links between the three principal levels of analysis have been uncovered. With this order of attention, social psychology boasts many more theories and studies of prejudice at the micro level of individuals than at other levels. But the field has learned that all three levels of analysis are critical for a fully rounded, more complete understanding of the topic.