Some researchers regard social attitudes as enduring predispositions, whereas others argue that they are constructed on the spot on the basis of accessible information. According to the sampling model proposed, certainty in one's attitude and the latency of forming that attitude track the online construction of the attitude and provide clues to the stable and variable contributions to attitude construction. An attitudinal judgment is based on a sample of accessible representations drawn from a large base of representations that are associated with the attitude object. Respondents behave like intuitive statisticians who infer the central tendency of a population on the basis of a small sample, and their certainty reflects the likelihood that a new sample will yield the same evaluation. Results on within-person consistency and cross-person consensus provided support for the model. Judgments that deviated from the person's own modal judgment or from the consensually held judgment took relatively longer to form and were associated with relatively lower confidence, presumably because they were based on non-representative samples. The effects of social consensus were found in the absence of any overt forces toward social conformity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology