The role of attitude objects in attitude functions

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Previous approaches to attitude functions have examined personality and situational influences on the multiple functions that can be served by the same attitudes. The present analysis focuses on the role of attitude objects in attitude functions and proposes that attitudes toward some objects tend to serve a single function. Using newly developed measures of attitude functions, Study 1 established that objects that are primarily associated with a single attitude function (utilitarian, social identity, or self-esteem maintenance function) can be identified. In Study 2, such objects served as a basis for directly varying the functions of attitudes, by varying the types of objects that served as experimental stimuli. This study investigated whether attitudes toward objects that engage different functions respond to different types of persuasive appeals. Subjects read appeals (advertisements) containing function-relevant or function-irrelevant information about products assumed primarily to engage either a utilitarian or a social identity function. Function-relevant ads were more persuasive than function-irrelevant ads, consistent with the findings of previous functional approaches. Additional data identified a situational factor, the juxtaposition of appeals, that influenced the magnitude of these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-148
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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