Psychology 3723G-001

Attitudes and Attitude Change

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


This course will describe research and theory in social psychology relating to attitudes. Topics to be covered include dissonance, factors associated with effective persuasion, resistance to persuasion, advertising, religious attitudes, environmental attitudes, prejudice and propaganda.


Antirequisites: Psychology 3710F/G, 3721F/G, 3740F/G


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810

2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:        Corey Isaacs

Office:            Social Science room 7440

Office Hours:   Mondays 6:00-7:00 pm (by appointment)            



Teaching Assistants:    Ana Cecilia Ruiz Pardo       Deanna Walker



Time and Location of Classes:   Mondays 7:00-9:00 pm in Social Science room 2032


Times and Location of Tutorials:  Section 002: Wed. 3:30 - 4:30 pm in Somerville House room 3305

                                                  Section 003: Wed. 4:30 - 5:30 pm in Somerville House room 3305

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Maio, G. R., & Haddock, G. (2015).  The Psychology of Attitudes and Attitude Change, Second Edition.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.



At the end of the course, students should have an understanding of the basic theories, methods, and findings in the literature on attitudes and attitude change. Topics include theories of attitudes (e.g., dissonance theory, elaboration likelihood model), mechanisms underlying persuasion, advertising, propaganda, and prejudice.


Lectures are intended to complement the textbook, and may include material that is not in the textbook. Thus, it is very important that you attend class and take notes every week.


Discussion during lecture time is encouraged, so please feel free to ask questions at any point and to offer your thoughts about issues raised in the lectures.


Tutorial/laboratory meetings will focus on specific aspects of the week’s topic. Sometimes the lab will involve watching a movie and discussing it afterwards, sometimes the lab will expose students to examples of a research topic, and sometimes the lab will involve discussion of a pertinent topic


After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Describe theories, research methods, and findings regarding the study of attitudes and attitude change.
  • Apply theoretical principles and research findings to examples of attitude formation and change in everyday life.
  • Discuss critical concepts and theories that are important in the field of attitude research.
  • Describe and critically evaluate research findings from social psychology.
  • Communicate clearly and cogently in writing using the discourse of psychology.



Please note that I do not make grade adjustments (e.g., applying a bell curve to the distribution of marks on a test or paper).  Also, I cannot adjust marks on the basis of need (e.g., because a certain mark is necessary to get into a particular academic program).


There will be four components to the marking scheme: participation at tutorial sessions (worth 10%, based on TA ratings), a midterm exam (worth 25%), an essay (worth 30%), and a final exam (worth 35%).


5.1  EXAMS


The two exams (midterm exam and final exam) will be a mix of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. The exams will be 2 hours long. Both text and lecture material will be tested. Chapters 1 to 5 will be tested on the Midterm Exam, as well as all of the lecture notes to that point. Chapters 6 to 10 will be tested on the Final Exam, as well as the lecture notes for classes after the Midterm Exam.  The Final Exam is not cumulative—that is, you are not responsible on the final exam for material that was tested on the Midterm Exam.




Tests must be written on the scheduled dates unless you have a legitimate excuse recognized by the university administration. Valid reasons include medical or compassionate reasons, and must be substantiated by proper documentation (e.g., a medical certificate, which will be verified by an Academic Counselor in your Faculty). A student who misses a regularly scheduled exam for other reasons, or who cannot justify a claim, will be assigned a 0 for the exam.


5.3  ESSAY


PLEASE NOTE:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (, you must pass the essay component (i.e., receive a grade of at least 50% on your essay assignment) to pass the course.


The essay (worth 30%) should be approximately 10 to 12 double-spaced pages of text, plus title page, references, and tables (if any) on one of the four topics listed below. Please use Times New Roman 12-point font, with margins of 1 inch (2.54 cm) on all four sides (left, right, top, bottom).


The essay is due on Friday, March 23rd. Late submissions will be penalized 5% per day. You must submit your paper electronically to the OWL Assignment tool (it will be automatically submitted to


Your essay should review some of the existing literature on the topic. You must cite at least three articles or chapters in addition to the one provided for the topic, and you should make clear that you have read the articles. For example, do NOT cite a paper in the following way: “Threats to self-esteem sometimes produce self-enhancing judgments (e.g., Jones & Leonard, 2001).” Instead, describe the study in the cited paper and explain how it demonstrated the principle, or summarize the specific arguments presented in the paper to support a theory.


One good way to find articles on the topic is by using PsycINFO on the Western library website. You can search for articles by topic, author, or title. You can also use Google Scholar by entering a topic or author. Finally, the Social Sciences Citation Index allows you to search for articles that have cited a specific publication (e.g., articles that cite the article provided for your topic).


Your essay must also provide two examples of the topic in real life. One of the examples must be from your own experiences. This does not mean that you were necessarily involved, but it must be from your life. For example, the event might have involved someone in your family or a friend. The other example must be from the media, such as television, newspapers, or the Internet. The event should be verifiable by some source, which should be cited in your paper (e.g., the channel and date of a television broadcast, the newspaper and date, or the Internet website). You must explain how or why your examples illustrate the topic. Relate your examples to your prior review of the literature on the topic. Why are your examples good ones? Do any elements of your examples not fit with the topic?


At the end of the paper, you should list all the articles, chapters, and any other published sources that were cited in the paper using APA style.


Marks will be based on the quality of the writing, the clarity and accuracy of the descriptions of the articles, and the appropriateness and creativity of the chosen examples. 


Possible Essay Topics


(1) Post-decisional Dissonance: People are motivated to rationalize their decisions.


Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Hagger, M. S., & Wang, J. C. K. (2008). An experimental test of cognitive dissonance theory in the domain of physical exercise. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20, 97-115.


(2) Mere Exposure: Familiarity usually produces more favourable attitudes toward a target.


Harmon-Jones, E., & Allen, J. J. B. (2001). The role of affect in the mere exposure effect: Evidence from psychophysiological and individual differences approaches. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 889-898.


(3) Selective Exposure: People seek out information that supports their attitudes and avoid information that challenges their attitudes.


Brannon, L. A., Tagler, M. J., & Eagly, A. H. (2007). The moderating role of attitude strength in selective exposure to information. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 611-617.


(4) Culture and Persuasion: People from different cultures may respond differently to different kinds of persuasive appeals.


Wang, C. L., Bristol, T., Mowen, J. C., & Chakraborty, G. (2000). Alternate modes of self-construal: Dimensions of connectedness-separateness and advertising appeals to the cultural and gender-specific self. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9, 107-115.
Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


Midterm Exam (25%): Monday, February 12

Essay (30%) due: Friday, March 23

Final exam (35%): During exam period (April 14-30)




Reading / Topic


January 8

Chapter 1: Definition and Measurement of Attitudes

January 10

[No tutorial]


January 15

Chapter 2: Attitude Content, Structure, and Functions

January 17

Tutorial Topic: Environmental Attitudes


January 22

Chapter 3: Attitudes and Information Processing

January 24

Tutorial Topic: Religious Attitudes


January 29

Chapter 4: Attitudes and Behavior

January 31

Tutorial Topic: Tobacco Advertising


February 5

Chapter 5: Cognitive Approaches to Attitudes

February 7

Tutorial Topic: Women in Advertising


February 12

MIDTERM EXAM (Chapters 1-5)

February 14

[No tutorial]


Feb 19 - 23

NO CLASS – Reading week


February 26

[No Class]

February 28

Tutorial Topic: Essay Questions and Ideas


March 5

Chapter 6: Affective Approaches to Attitudes

March 7

Tutorial Topic: Alberta Oil Sands Debate


March 12

Chapter 7: Behavioral Approaches to Attitudes

March 14

Tutorial Topic: Propaganda


March 19

Chapter 8: How Attitudes Are Shaped

March 21

Tutorial Topic: Prejudice


March 26

Chapter 9: Internal Influences on Attitudes

March 28

Tutorial Topic: Being an Informed Consumer


April 2

Chapter 10: External Influences on Attitudes

April 4

[No tutorial]


April 14-30 

FINAL EXAM (Chapters 6-10)


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.