Posts Tagged ‘Dolores Albarracin’

Made-up science: “Liking” or “disliking” in general is a personality trait!

August 27, 2013

This comes into the category – not of bad science – but what I would call “made-up science” where something fairly trivial and obvious is made sufficiently complicated to be addressed by “scientific method”.

It is apparently called “dispositional attitude” and it has a 16-item scale to measure an individual’s propensity to generally like or dislike any stimulii! This surprising and novel discovery expands attitude theory by demonstrating that an attitude is not simply a function of an object’s properties, but it is also a function of the properties of the individual who evaluates the object,”  So a “liker” likes everything and a “hater” hates everything!

“Dispositional Attitude” seems neither surprising nor so very novel. Not so very different from what has been called the “Observer Effect” in physics or the “actor-observer assymetry” in attribution theory. It is unnecessarily trying to complicate what is little more than a cliche. Beauty – or liking or hating – lies in the eye of  the beholder and if your personality wears rose-coloured glasses – surprise, surprise – everything appears red.

Justin Hepler & Dolores Albarracin, “Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences,”J Pers Soc Psychol. 2013 Jun;104(6):1060-76. doi: 10.1037/a0032282. Epub 2013 Apr 15.

The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania has come out with this Press Release:

New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined “dispositional attitude.”
            People with a positive dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to like things, whereas people with a negative dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to dislike things, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The journal article, “Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences,” was written by Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D., the Martin Fishbein Chair of Communication and Professor of Psychology at Penn.
            “The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator,” wrote the authors. “[For example], at first glance, it may not seem useful to know someone’s feelings about architecture when assessing their feelings about health care. After all, health care and architecture are independent stimuli with unique sets of properties, so attitudes toward these objects should also be independent.”
            However, they note, there is still one critical factor that an individual’s attitudes will have in common: the individual who formed the attitudes.  “Some people may simply be more prone to focusing on positive features and others on negative features,” Hepler said.  …..  
“This surprising and novel discovery expands attitude theory by demonstrating that an attitude is not simply a function of an object’s properties, but it is also a function of the properties of the individual who evaluates the object,” concluded Hepler and Albarracín. “Overall, the present research provides clear support for the dispositional attitude as a meaningful construct that has important implications for attitude theory and research.”
Abstract:
We hypothesized that individuals may differ in the dispositional tendency to have positive versus negative attitudes, a trait termed the Dispositional Attitude. Across four studies, we developed a 16-item Dispositional Attitude Measure (DAM) and investigated its internal consistency, test-retest reliability, factor structure, convergent validity, discriminant validity, and predictive validity. DAM scores were (a) positively correlated with positive affect traits, curiosity-related traits, and individual pre-existing attitudes, (b) negatively correlated with negative affect traits, and (c) uncorrelated with theoretically unrelated traits. Dispositional attitudes also significantly predicted the valence of novel attitudes while controlling for theoretically relevant traits (such as
the big-five and optimism). The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator. We discuss the intriguing implications of dispositional attitudes for many areas of research, including attitude formation, persuasion, and behavior prediction.

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