spring 2015
PSY-3005 Attitudes - 10 ECTS

Type of course

This is an elective course on the Master`s program in Psychology.

Course content

Our attitudes toward objects, people, and ideas shape many aspects of everyday life, including our choice of consumer goods, friends, and political values. What are attitudes, how do they develop, how are they related to behavior, how can they be measured, and how can they be changed?


Part I of the lecture presents traditional and contemporary approaches to the study of attitudes. This part deals with the definition of attitudes, their structure and function, their origin, and their consequences. The measurement of attitudes will be discussed; further, the most influential models of persuasion (that is, how to change peoples attitudes) will be presented.


Part II deals with selected topics that have recently gained attention in the literature. First, new theoretical models of persuasive communication have been proposed that provide a fresh view on how attitudes are formed, and how they can be changed. These models will be presented and compared to the established approaches. Second, research has demonstrated the usefulness of complementing direct measures of attitudes (typically based on questionnaire responses) by indirect attitude measures (typically based on response latencies). These two kinds of measures may often lead to different conclusions, for instance in research on sensitive topics such as intergroup attitudes. Theoretical background and measurement instruments, but also ambiguities concerning the appropriate interpretation of indirectly assessed attitudes will be presented and discussed.

Objectives of the course

After completing the course the student should be able to:
  • Account for central theoretical debates on the formation, change, and measurement of attitudes.
  • Explain the interplay between attitudes and behavior.
  • Develop suitable methods/tools for measuring attitudes both directly and indirectly.
  • Explain how attitudes can be changed within and beyond the conscious awareness of the individual.
  • Design studies and interventions that deal with the measurement and change of attitudes.

Language of instruction and examination

The course is held in English. The weekly assignments and the home exam may be written in English or Norwegian.

Teaching methods

24 hours of lectures and seminars, 2 hours each time. The classroom sessions will support the student's individual and independent work on the subject by giving an overview, pointing out connections, explaining core concepts and commenting on the reading list.


Home exam. The student must write an academic essay (10 pages) on a subject in agreement with the teacher. The essay is graded A-F. There will be a make-up exam early next semester for students receiving an F on the exam.

Obligatory coursework requirements:

1) to hand in a half-page discussion paper on the literature for each session, on the day before the session (to be evaluated pass/fail by the course teacher), and

(2) to give one 15-minute presentation to the class (to be evaluated pass/fail by the course teacher; the exact topic, literature, and presentation strategy shall be discussed and agreed with the course teacher beforehand).

The coursework assignments must be approved/pass in order to take the final exam.

Recommended reading/syllabus

Bohner, G. & Dickel, N. (2011). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 391-417. (27 pages)

Bohner, G., & Wänke, M. (2002). Attitudes and attitude change. Hove: Psychology Press. (295 pages)

Dijksterhuis, A., Aarts, H., & Smith, P.K. (2005). The power of the subliminal: Subliminal perception and possible applications. In R. Hassin, J. Uleman, & J.A. Bargh (Eds.), The new unconscious (pp. 77-106). New York: Oxford University Press. (30 pages).

Dijksterhuis, A. & Nordgren, L. F. (2006). A theory of unconscious thought. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 95-109. (15 pages)

Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (1995). Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes. Psychological Review, 102, 4-27. (24 pages)

Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464-1480. (17 pages)

Kruglanski, A. W., & Thompson, E. P. (1999). Persuasion by a single route: A view from the unimodel. Psychological Inquiry, 10, 83-109. (27 pages)

Van Overwalle, F., & Siebler, F. (2005). A connectionist model of attitude formation and change. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 231-274. (44 pages)

Wilson, T. D., Lindsey, S., & Schooler, T. Y. (2000). A model of dual attitudes. Psychological Review, 107, 101-126. (26 pages)

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: PSY-3005
  • Earlier years and semesters for this topic