Reasoning and the weighting of attributes in attitude judgments

Levine, G. M., Halberstadt, J. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (1996). Reasoning and the weighting of attributes in attitude judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 230-240.

The experiments examined processes by which analyzing reasons may influence attitude judgments. Participants made multiple liking judgments on sets of stimuli that varied along six a priori dimensions. In Study 1, the stimulus set consisted of 64 cartoon faces with six binary-valued attributes (e.g. a straight versus crooked nose). In Study 2, the stimuli were 60 digitized photographs from a college yearbook that varied along six dimensions uncovered through multi-dimensional scaling. In each experiment, half of the participants were instructed to think about the reasons why they liked each face before making their liking rating. Participants` multiple liking ratings were then regressed on the dimension values to determine how they weighted each dimension in their liking judgments. Results support a process whereby reasoning leads to increased variability and inconsistency in the weighting of stimulus information. Results are discussed with respect to Wilson`s model of the disruptive effects of reasoning on attitude judgments (e.g. Wilson, Dunn, Kraft, & Lisle, 1989).

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