A Subjective Measure of Attitude Extremity: Validation and Extension

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Fowlie, Devin
Attitudes , Persuasion , Social Psychology , Attitude Extremity
Attitudes are individuals’ enduring global evaluations of objects, concepts, or ideas, which may vary in both valence and extremity. There are many important determinants of attitudes and attitude strength, with research suggesting that one important determinant is the extremity of one’s attitude. The present research explored two possible methods of capturing individuals’ attitude extremity through objective and subjective measures. The goal of the current research was therefore to test two propositions: First, that the measures should be largely independent of one another, and second, that each measure would tap into meaningful processes of the functioning of the attitude. Study one examined the role of objective and subjectively measured attitude extremity on resistance to persuasion attempts. Here, we found that the measures were modestly correlated to one another, and that both exerted independent and opposite effects on persuasion resistance. Study two examined the role of subjective and objectively measured extremity on information processing. We again found modest correlations between the measures, though each measure produced minimal effects on information processing. The exception to this was our finding that individuals’ attitudes affected the favorability of their thoughts, and that this effect was more pronounced for objectively extreme attitudes. We discuss implications for this research in the context of the broader attitude strength literature and future directions for this work.
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