The proposed research has the long-term objective of providing an understanding of how individuals structure and cope with their social environments. Specifically, the research centers upon the functional value of attitudes and examines the process by which attitudes serve to simplify the behavior of a mentally healthy individual. Attitudes aid individuals to cope with the multitude and variety of stimuli encountered daily and, thus, contribute to effective daily functioning. A model of the various cognitive steps involved in the process by which attitudes guide behavior has been proposed. The model suggests that the necessary steps in this process include (1) that the attitude be activated from memory upon the individual's encountering the attitude subject, (2) that, through selective processing, the now activated attitude influence one's perceptions of the object in the immediate situation and one's definition of the event that is occurring, (3) that this definition of the event direct behavior toward the object. Past research has proven supportive of the model. The proposed work seeks to test the model further and to examine implications of the past research findings. Four projects, each of which involve a series of experiments, are planned. Project I concerns the conditions under which the proposed attitude-behavior process is most likely to operate. Project II examines the validity of the model in the context of social interaction. Project III focuses upon the development of an unobtrusive measure of attitude based upon the extent to which the attitude is activated from memory upon mere observation of the attitude object. Project IV directly examines the model's assumption regarding the functional value of attitudes that are highly accessible from memory and, in so doing, seeks to demonstrate the relevance of highly accessible attitudes to mental health concerns.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Indiana University Bloomington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Jones, Christopher R; Vilensky, Michael R; Vasey, Michael W et al. (2013) Approach behavior can mitigate predominately univalent negative attitudes: evidence regarding insects and spiders. Emotion 13:989-996
Vasey, Michael W; Harbaugh, Casaundra N; Buffington, Adam G et al. (2012) Predicting return of fear following exposure therapy with an implicit measure of attitudes. Behav Res Ther 50:767-74
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Eiser, J Richard; Stafford, Tom; Fazio, Russell H (2009) Prejudiced learning: a connectionist account. Br J Psychol 100:399-413
Jones, Christopher R; Fazio, Russell H; Olson, Michael A (2009) Implicit misattribution as a mechanism underlying evaluative conditioning. J Pers Soc Psychol 96:933-48
Shook, Natalie J; Fazio, Russell H; Vasey, Michael W (2007) Negativity bias in attitude learning: a possible indicator of vulnerability to emotional disorders? J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 38:144-55
Olson, Michael A; Fazio, Russell H (2007) Discordant evaluations of Blacks affect nonverbal behavior. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 33:1214-24
Olson, Michael A; Fazio, Russell H; Hermann, Anthony D (2007) Reporting tendencies underlie discrepancies between implicit and explicit measures of self-esteem. Psychol Sci 18:287-91
Olson, Michael A; Fazio, Russell H (2006) Reducing automatically activated racial prejudice through implicit evaluative conditioning. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 32:421-33

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