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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparison of strategies for attitude change Bennett, Gary George


The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of three strategies for achieving more positive measured attitudes toward the Native Indians of Canada; namely, role playing, reading, and principle testing. The literature suggested that the most effective strategy for changing attitudes would be the one that would introduce inconsistency into one's psychological system for the purpose of demonstrating the potential psychological satisfaction of a new attitude without, at the same time, posing a threat to the subject's perceived psychological freedom. Although the literature suggested that all three strategies should produce significant attitudinal change, there was not enough clear empirical evidence to employ directional hypotheses. The role play strategy most closely fit the requirements for attitudinal change; therefore, it is stated in hypothesis one that the role play strategy would produce an attitude change significantly different than either reading or principle testing. It was also hypothesized that each of the strategies, (role playing, reading, and principle testing) would produce an attitude change significantly different than the control group. The literature also suggested that the dogmatic personality was an intervening variable in the process of attitude acquisition; dogmatic students were expected to resist change in all three experimental situations. Therefore, it was also hypothesized that there was a strong inverse relation between the degree of one's dogmatism in one's personality and the amount of attitude change. A 2 x 4 (dogmatism x method) factorial design was used in this study; the four levels being compared consisted of three experimental strategies and one control group; the two levels of dogmatism consisted of dogmatic and non-dogmatic students, (as determined by ranking out scores on a dogmatism scale pretest). The student sample consisted of four intact groups taking a compulsory English 11 course in a large senior secondary school located in a predominantly Caucasian, middle income socio-economic area. The students had been assigned previously to these groups in an arbitrary manner but the treatment levels were assigned to the groups randomly. The treatment period ran approximately four days. The role playing strategy required that various students take on the role of either Native Indians or Whites and attempt to convince other members of the class of the validity of their adopted value positions. The reading strategy required that the students read and discuss a short novel that showed some degree of empathy toward Native Indians. In the principle testing strategy the teacher attempted to clarify the value positions of students toward Native Indians by using various discussion strategies. An analysis of covariance revealed that none of the strategies produced a significant attitude change; furthermore, it showed that dogmatic personalities were not interacting significantly with attitude change. The researcher suggests several possible reasons for these results, some of which are: the device used to measure attitude change may not have been sensitive or subtle enough to measure the true feelings of the students; the materials used in the strategies may not have been long or strong enough to demonstrate that a legitimate inconsistency was present; and perhaps a longer incubation period is needed to assimilate the inconsistency and to reorganize one's attitudes toward the subject.

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