Effects of Reinforcement and Punishment on Attitude Formation
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Type of Workapplication/pdf
vii, 36 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Psychology
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There are no restrictions on access to this document. An internet release form signed by the author to display this document online is on file with Towson University Special Collections and Archives.
Peoples' attitudes may frequently be predicted by the attitudes of their peers or salient individuals of higher status. Previous research focuses on elaborative conditioning to explain this effect. The present study elaborates on this previous research by examining the role of reinforcement and punishment on attitude formation, and creating a paradigm that more accurately reflects real world interaction between the individual and his or her family members and peers. Participants expressed their opinions regarding a candidate running for a position in their university's student government. They received feedback that they were told came from graduate students, and were then given the opportunity to change their opinions. There was significantly more change in participants who received punishment as opposed to those who received reinforcement or the control group. However, rather than causing participants to change their minds, this punishment seemed to have a polarizing effect, causing participants who opposed the candidate to form a stronger opposition.