chapter  9
20 Pages

Affective Inuences on the Formation, Expression, and Change of Attitudes

What role do temporary mood states play in the way attitudes are formed, maintained, and changed? The study of attitudes and attitude change has been historically one of the key topics of social psychology. As historians of our discipline noted, it was the study of attitudes, an intrinsically mentalistic concept, that ultimately saved social psychology from succumbing to the more absurd excesses of doctrinaire behaviorism. The concept of attitudes is unique in that it captures the complex, multifaceted ways in which human beings are capable of symbolically synthesizing and representing their social experiences and then using such mental representations to form predispositions that guide their subsequent social behaviors . It was George Herbert Mead, who, in his symbolic interactionist theory, rst highlighted the key role that mental processes play in the way representations of social experiences are formed and eventually come to regulate social behavior (Mead, 1934). However, the term attitude was not used by Mead. Rather, it was rst introduced into the social science literature in the work of Thomas and Znaniecki (1928), who used the concept of attitudes to describe the changing patterns of cultural adaptation among Polish emigrants to the United States.