Psychology 607 - The Construction of Attitudes and Beliefs
331 Straub, 346-4919
Office hours: Monday, 1-3
This seminar deals with the social cognition at the heart of how information is processed
and combined to form attitudes (perceived evaluations) and beliefs (perceived facts). The course
will roughly follow the "life span" of these mental constructs, examining the initial stages of
construction, what "building materials" are likely to be incorporated, how various combinations
of information may interact and affect them, what happens to them as they are reconsidered, and
people's meta-beliefs about attitudes and beliefs. Because decisions and preferences are often an
indication of what a person thinks or believes, much of the material we cover will also be related
to decision making. The focus of this course is not on specific complex social attitudes (e.g.,
school busing) or beliefs (e.g., creationism), but on lower level judgments that may ultimately
combine to form these complex social judgments.
1) The course will provide an overview of several core issues at the intersection of
the fields of social cognition and judgment and decision making. This review of this literature is
intended to provide a background that will be useful to participants in their own research and
possible teaching within related areas of psychology.
2) The course will provide the opportunity for an in-depth examination of specific
issues related to the construction of attitudes and beliefs. It is hoped that these opportunities will
lead participants to pursue new research questions that either directly stem from the course
content, or are related to their other research interests.
3) The course will provide a forum to engage in activities critical to field of
psychology: the generation, presentation and discussion of ideas.
Readings include recent articles and some classics, and are mostly drawn from social cognition
and judgment/decision making sources. There is no textbook for the course. Required readings
(noted with an "*") are to be read by everyone before the seminar meets. Related readings are
suggested but not required, and additional related readings may be suggested throughout the
course, by other seminar members or the instructor. Master copies of readings can be obtained in the Psychology Department Faculty/Graduate Student Lounge. In addition,
full references are provided for all the readings, so you may read them in the original journal or
book if you wish.
1) Class participation: This course is a seminar, thus class participation is extremely
important. All participants are expected to read each required reading prior to class and be
prepared to discuss it fully. In particular, participants should try to go beyond the information
provided in the readings, raising new questions, critiquing methodology, and making connections
to other readings.
As a formal contribution to each discussion, each week participants should prepare either
a set of questions prompted by the readings that they would like to discuss OR an outline of an
experiment to test some idea prompted by the readings. The goal of this assignment is to promote
high level discussion of the current week's readings and time will be set aside each week to go
over the questions or outlines. However, participants are also encouraged to bring in questions or
ideas about previous weeks' material. (If I deem preparation of the questions or experiment
outlines as too minimal, participants may be asked to submit written versions of their
contributions prior to seminar meetings.)
Because attendance is a prerequisite of in-class participation, please attend. If you know
in advance that you must miss a class, I would appreciate it if you let me know. I anticipate
many interesting ideas and contributions to come from you-- the seminar participants--and thus
your absence affects the quality of other participants' experience in the seminar.
2) Leading Discussion: Although you should always be prepared to contribute to the
class, each seminar participant will be asked to lead discussion (probably twice during the
quarter, depending on the number of participants). It is up to you how you lead discussion, but
your facilitation should go beyond summarizing the readings. Possible ideas include (but are not
limited to!) linking the week's readings to another area of psychology (either within social
psychology or not--for some weeks, I have noted a related topic to the main theme of the week's
readings), applying the readings to a "real life" context or problem, raising unasked and
unanswered questions (and suggesting possible answers), or identifying emergent frameworks or
recurrent themes. You may pick one of the routes, or combine two or more. Ideally, issues from
previous class meetings can also be integrated into later class discussions. The discussion leader
should bring some additional "expertise" to the discussion, by doing extra reading, having
previous experience with the topic, and/or providing additional illustrations of the points he or
she wishes to make. If you use additional readings, it would be very helpful if you could bring a
list of the references for the class.
3) Research paper: Each student will write a final paper that will be due at a date
during finals week to be announced. There are two possible formats for this paper:
a. You may write an introduction and methods section for an empirical study (or series of
studies). If it is not explicitly clear from the theory outlined in your introduction, you should also
provide expected results. I encourage students to use this option as a way to develop a viable
research project that can actually be conducted. OR
b. You may write a literature review or theoretical paper about a topic related to the class.
The lit review should be a Psychological Bulletin type paper of an area not previously
reviewed; the theoretical paper should be Psychological Review type paper, outlining a
novel theoretical interpretation of pre-existing literature.
Whichever format you pick, a description outlining what you plan to do for your paper
(about a page or two) is due in class the week of May 19. I encourage you to discuss your ideas
about your paper with me at any point. Time will be reserved during the last class meeting for
each seminar participant to present his or her paper topic. Each of you will read and provide
feedback on the paper of another seminar participant and thus, each of you will be given
feedback that you should consider incorporating into your final draft. The final paper (either
format) should be written in APA style.
The course may be taken graded or pass/no-pass. In order to pass the course, each separate
component (participation, presentation, and paper) must be at a passing level (non-compensatory
model). If you take the course for a grade, your paper will be 60% of your grade and participation
(weekly in-class contributions, plus presentation) will be 40% of your grade.
As listed in the bulletin, registration for the seminar requires the instructor's permission.
Psychology Department graduate students are automatically eligible. If you have a documented
disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please make arrangements to
meet with me soon. Please request that the Counselor for Students with Disabilities send a letter
verifying your disability.
This schedule will be adhered to as closely as possible. Should changes occur, you will be
* Denotes CORE reading. Other articles are related reading.
Week I. Organizational Meeting
Week II. Belief Beginnings
*Gilbert, D. (1991). How mental systems believe.American Psychologist,
*Hastie, R. & Park, B. (1986). The relationship between memory and judgment
depends on whether the judgment task is memory-based or on-line. Psychological Review,
*Sherman, S. J. (1981). On the self-erasing nature of errors of prediction.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 211-221.
*Wilson, T. D. & Hodges, S. D. (1992). Attitudes as temporary constructions. In
L. Martin and A. Tesser (Eds.), The construction of social judgment, (pp. 37-65).
Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Begg, I., Armour, V., & Kerr, T. (1985). On believing what we remember.
Canadian Journal of Behavioual Science, 17, 199-214.
Gilbert, D.T., Krull, D. S., & Malone, P. S. (1990). Unbelieving the unbelievable:
Some problems in the rejection of false information. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 59, 601-613.
Koehler, D. J. (1991). Explanation, imagination, and confidence in judgment.
Psychological Bulletin, 110, 499-519.
Langer, E. (1989). Minding matters: The consequences of mindlessness-mindfulness. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol.
22, pp. 137-173). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Ross, L., Lepper, M. R., Strack, R. & Steinmetz, J. (1977). Social explanation and
social expectation: Effects of real and hypothetical explanations on subjective likelihood.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 817-829.
Sherman, S. J., Zehner, K. S., Johnson, J., & Hirt, E. R. (1983). Social
Explanation: The role of timing, set, and recall on subjective likelihood estimates. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 1127-1143.
Montgomery, H. (1989). From cognition to action: The search for dominance in
decision making. In H. Montgomery & O. Svenson (Eds.), Process and structure in human
decision making. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Discussion leaders: Wendy, Sara
(Related topic: Imagination and belief)
III. Accessible building blocks
*Andersen, S. M., Glassman, N., Chen, S., & Cole, S. W. (1995). Transference in
social perception: The role of chronic accessibility in significant-other relationships. Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 41-57.
*Fazio, R. H., Chen, Jeaw-Mei, McDonel, E. C., & Sherman, S. J. (1982). Attitude
accessibility, attitude-behavior consistency, and the strength of the object-evaluation association.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18, 339-357.
*Higgins, E. T., & Brendl, M. C. (1995). Accessibility and applicability: Some
"activation rules" influencing judgment.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 31,
*Wilson, T. D., Hodges, S. D. & LaFleur, S. J. (1995). Effects of introspecting
about reasons: Inferring attitudes from accessible thoughts. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 69, 16-28.
Bargh, J. A., Bond, R. N., Lombardi, W. J., & Tota, M. E. (1986). The additive
nature of chronic and temporary sources of construct accessibility. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 50, 869-878.
Bargh, J. A., & Pratto, F. (1986). Individual construct accessibility and perceptual
selection. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 293-311.
Fazio, R. H., Powell, M. C., & Williams, C. J. (1989). The role of attitude
accessibility in the attitude-behavior process. Journal of Consumer Research, 16, 280-288.
Higgins, E. T. (1996). Knowledge activation: Accessibility, applicability, and
salience. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic
Principles. New York: Guilford Press.
Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, & Simons, A. (1991). Ease of retrieval as
information: Another look at the availability heuristic. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 61, 195-202.
Discussion leader: Tony
IV. Unconscious and unwanted influences:
*Loewenstein, G. (1996). Out of control: Visceral influences on behavior.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 65, 272-292.
*Seligman, C., Fazio, R. H., & Zanna, M. P. (1980). Effects of salience of extrinsic
rewards on liking and loving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 453-460.
*Schwarz, N. & Bless, H. (1992). Constructing reality and its alternatives: An
inclusion/exclusion model of assimilation and contrast effects in social judgments. In L. L.
Martin and A. Tesser (Eds.), The Construction of Social Judgments (pp. 217-245).
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
*Wegner, D. M., Wenzlaff, R., Kerker, R. M., & Beattie, A. (1981). Incrimination
through innuendo: Can media questions become public answers? Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 40, 822-832.
*Wilson, T. D., & Brekke, N. (1994). Mental contamination and mental correction:
Unwanted influences on judgments and evaluations. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 117-142.
Gruenfield, D. H., & Wyer, R. S. (1992). Semantics and pragmatics of social
influence: How affirmations and denials affect beliefs in referent propositions. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 38-49.
Keysar, B. (1994). The illusory transparency of intention: Linguistic perspective
taking in text. Cognitive Psychology, 26, 165-208.
Loewenstein, G., Nagin, D., & Paternoster, R. (1997). The effect of sexual arousal
on expectations of sexual forcefulness. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency,
Schwarz, N., Strack, F., Kommer, D., & Wagner, D. (1987). Soccer, rooms, and
the quality of your life: Mood effects on judgments of satisfaction with life in general and with
specific domains. European Journal of Social Psychology, 17, 69-79.
Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Schwarz, N. (1988). Priming and communication: The
social determinants of information use in judgments of life-satisfaction. European Journal of
Social Psychology, 18, 429-442.
Wilson, T. D., Gilbert, D. T., & Eliason, T. W. (in press). Protecting our minds:
The role of lay beliefs. Chapter to appear in V. Yzerbyt, G. Lories, & B. Dardenne (Eds.),
Metacognition: Cognitive and social dimensions. New York: Sage.
Discussion leader: Kristi
(Related applied topic: Inadmissable evidence; Related topic: Mood effects on judgment)
V. Belief Theories and Frames
*Gilbert, D. T., Pinel, E. C., Wilson, T. D., & Blumberg, S. J. (1997). Affective
forecasting and durability bias: The problem of the invisible shield. Unpublished manuscript.
*Gilovich, T. (1991). Seeing what we expect to see: The biased evaluation of
ambiguous and inconsistent data. In How we know what isn't so (pp. 49-72). New York:
The Free Press
*Klaaren, K. J., Hodges, S. D. & Wilson, T. D. (1994). The role of affective
expectations in subjective experience and decision-making. Social Cognition, 12, 77-101.
*Ross, M. (1989). Relation of implicit theories to the construction of personal
histories. Psychological Review, 96, 341-357.
Gilbert, D., & Wilson, T. D. (in press). Miswanting. To appear in J. Forgas (Ed.),
Thinking and feeling: The role of affect in social cognition.
Hodges, S. D., Klaaren, K. J., & Wheatley, T. P. (1997). Talking about safe
sex: The role of expectations and experience. Unpublished manuscript.
Kahneman, D. & Snell, J. (1992). Predicting a changing taste: Do people know
what they will like? Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 5, 187-200.
Klayman, J., & Ha, Y. (1987). Confirmation, disconfirmation, and information in
hypothesis testing. Psychological Review, 94, 211-228.
Kunda, Z. (1990). The case for motivated reasoning. Psychological Bulletin,
Mitchell, T. R., Thompson, L., Peterson, E., & Cronk, R. (1997). Temporal
adjustments in the evaluation of events: The "rosy view." Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 33, 421-448.
Sieff, E. M., Dawes, R. M., & Loewenstein, G. (1996). Anticipated versus
actual reaction to HIV test results. Unpublished manuscript.
Discussion leaders: Kristi, Patty
(Related topic: Affective expectations' effect on experience)
VI. Combination and integration
*Ariely, D., & Zauberman, G. (1998). On the making of an experience: The
effects of breaking and combining experiences on their overall evaluation. Unpublished
*Hsee, C. K., & Abelson, R. P. (1991). Velocity relation: Satisfaction as a function
of the first derivative of outcome over time. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
*Kahneman, D., Fredrickson, B., Schreiber, C. A., & Redelmeier, D. A. (1993).
When more pain is preferred to less: Adding a better end. Psychological Science, 4, 401-405.
*Linville, P. W., & Fischer, G. W. (1991). Preferences for separating or combining
events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 5-23.
Fredrickson, B. L., & Kahneman, D. (1993). Duration neglect in retrospective
evaluations of affective episodes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 45-55.
Hsee, C. K., Abelson, R. P., & Salovey, P. (1991). The relative weighting of
position and velocity in satisfaction. Psychological Science, 2, 263-266.
Hsee, C. K., Salovey, P., & Abelson, R. P. (1994). The quasi-acceleration relation:
Satisfaction as a function of the change of velocity of outcome over time. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 96-111.
Skowronski, J. J., & Carlston, D. E. (1989). Negativity and extremity biases in
impression formation: A review of explanations. Psychological Bulletin, 105, 131-142.
Pratto, F., & John, O. P. (1991). Automatic vigilance: The attention-grabbing power of
negative social information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 380-391.
Discussion leader: Patty
(Related topic: Asymmetry of negative and positive information)
VII. Relative Comparisons
*Gentner, D., & Markman, A. B. (1994). Structural alignment in comparison: No
difference without similarity. Psychological Science, 5, 152-158.
*Hsee, C. K. (1996). The evaluability hypothesis: An explanation for preference
reversals between joint and separate evaluations of alternatives. Organizational Behavior and
Human Decision Processes, 67, 247-257.
*Houston, D. A., & Sherman, S. J. (1995). Cancellation and focus: The role of
shared and unique features in the choice process. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,
*Simonson, I., & Tversky, A. (1992). Choice in context: Tradeoff contrast and
extremeness aversion. Journal of Marketing Research, 29, 281-295.
Diamond, P. A., & Hausman, J. A. (1994). Contingent valuation: Is some number
better than no number? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8, 45-64.
Fischhoff, B. (1991). Value elicitation: Is there anything there? American
Psychologist, 46, 835-847.
Frederick, S., & Fischhoff, B. (1997). Magnitude insensitivity in elicited
valuations: Examining conventional explanations. Unpublished manuscript.
Hodges, S. D. (1997). When matching up features messes up decisions: The role of
feature matching in successive choices. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72,
Hsee, C. K. (in press?). Less is better: When low-value options are valued more
highly than high value options. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, ??, ??.
Markman, A. B., & Gentner, D. (1996). Commonalities and differences in
similarity comparisons. Memory and Cognition, 24, 235-249.
Kahneman, D., Ritov, I., Jacowitz, K. E., & Grant, P. (1993). Stated willingness to
pay for public goods: A psychological perspective.Psychological Science, 4, 310-315.
Shafir, E., Simonson, I., & Tversky, A. (1993). Reason-based choice. Cognition,
van den Bos, K., Lind, A., Vermunt, R., & Wilke, H. A. M. (1997). How do I judge
my outcome when I do not know the others? The psychology of the fair process effect.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1034-1046.
Discussion leader: Matt
(Related topic: Contingent valuation)
VIII. Persevering and changing beliefs
*Ross, L., & Lepper, M. R. (1980). The perseverance of beliefs: Empirical and
normative considerations. In R. A. Shweder (Ed.), New directions for methodology of
behavioral science: Fallible judgment in behavioral research (pp. 17-36). San Francisco:
*Hawkins, S. A., & Hastie, R. (1990). Hindsight: Biased judgments of past events
after the outcomes are known. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 311-327.
*Ross, L., Lepper, M. R., & Hubbard, M. (1975) Perseverance in self perception
and social perception: Biased attributional processes in the debriefing paradigm. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 880-892.
*Wegner, D. M., Coulton, G., & Wenzlaff, R. (1985). The transparency of denial:
Briefing in the debriefing paradigm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49,
Anderson, C. A., & Sechler, E. S. (1986). Effects of explanation and counter-explanation on the development and use of social theories. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 50, 24-34.
Anderson, C. A., Lepper, M. & Ross, L. (1980). Perseverance of social theories:
The role of explanation in the persistence of discredited information. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 39, 1037-1049.
Fischhoff, B. (1975). Hindsight Foresight: The effect of outcome knowledge on
judgment under uncertainty. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and
Performance, 288-299. Hindsight
Hirt, E. R., & Markman, K. D. (1995). Multiple explanation: A consider-an-alternative approach to debiasing judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Lord, C. G., Lepper, M. R. & Preston, E. (1984). Considering the opposite: A
corrective strategy for social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Discussion leader: Wendy
(Related topic: Considering alternatives)
IX. Thinking and rethinking
*Chaiken, S. & Yates, S. (1985). Affective-cognitive consistency and thought-induced attitude polarization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1470-1481.
*Kahneman, D., & Miller, D. T. (1986). Norm theory: Comparing reality to its
alternatives. Psychological Review, 93, 136-153.
*Wilson, T. D., LaFleur, S. J., & Lindsey, J. S. (in press). Expertise and
introspection: Analyzing the reason's for one's attitudes. To appear in J. Caverni & R. E. Nisbett
(Eds.), The psychology of expertise. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.
*Wilson, T. D., Lisle, D. J., Schooler, J. W., Hodges, S. D., Klaaren, K. J. &
LaFleur, S. J. (1993). Introspecting about reasons can reduce post-choice satisfaction.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 19, 331-339.
Millar, M. G., & Tesser, A. (1986). Effects of affective and cognitive focus on the
attitude-behavior relation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 270-276.
Roese, N. J. (1997). Counterfactual thinking. Psychological Bulletin, 121,
Tesser, A., & Leone, C. (1977). Cognitive schemas and thought as determinants of
attitude change. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 24, 340-356.
Wells, G. L., Taylor, B.R., & Turtle, J. W. (1987). The undoing of scenarios.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 421-430.
Wilson, T. D., & Kraft, D. (1993). Why do I love thee?: Effects of repeated
introspections about a dating relationship on attitudes toward the relationship.Personality and
Social Psychology Bulletin, 19, 409-418.
Discussion leaders: Matt, Tony
X. Consolidation (and presentation of paper ideas by participants)
*Kruglanski, A. W., & Weber, D. M. (1996). Motivated closing of the mind:
"Seizing" and "freezing." Psychological Review, 103, 263-283.
*Gollwitzer, P. M. (1996). The volitional benefits of planning. In P. M. Gollwitzer
& J. A. Bargh (Eds.), The psychology of action (pp. 287-312). New York: Guilford Press.