The assessment of objects, situations, events, people, and groups plays a fundamental role in human experience, in that it brings to life the relationship between an individual and his social world. Social psychologists have summed up this facet of knowledge in the term "attitude", which lies at the basis of the very discipline of social psychology. Starting with the debate concerning the definition of the construct which accompanied the initial stage of social psychology's interest in attitudes, the book sets forth some distinctions with respect to terms that are considered synonyms in everyday language: preference, opinion, value. The text offers an overview of up-to-date research on how such assessments manifest themselves in the cognitive system, their functions, their relationship to behaviours and the ways in which attitudes change. Such studies place special emphasis on the role of social factors in attitude formation and maintenance. The topic of representation of reality in evaluative terms is also developed according to a standpoint that highlights the social construction and sharing of assessments; therefore the text also includes a section that addresses the relationship between the construct of attitude and social representation.
Table of Contents: 1. Selected Conceptual Boundaries - 2. Structure and Functions of Attitudes - 3. How to Study Attitudes and Opinions - 4. Attitudes, Stereotypes, and Prejudices - 5. From Attitudes to Behaviour - 6. Attitude and Opinion Change - 7. From Attitudes to Social Representations - Bibliography
Nicoletta Cavazza teaches Social Psychology and Political Psychology at the University of Modena-Reggio Emilia.