In a new study, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign and the University of Pennsylvania propose a new dimension to individual personality: a “dispositional attitude.” Whereas people with positive dispositional attitudes have a natural inclination to like, or approve of, external objects and situations, those with negative dispositional attitudes exhibit a strong tendency to dislike them. It would appear that our judgment is not as empirical as we would like to think.
“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,” study authors Justin Hepler and Dolores Albarracin write. “[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.”
Yet, these seemingly irrelevant pieces of information may nonetheless carry substantive information, as they indicate how the individual in question forms his or her opinions. Our assessment of one object or situation may reveal a fundamental pattern – a dispositional attitude – that can subsequently be used to predict our opinion of a completely different thing.
I find that people correlate different emotions to different parts of their bodies and find it difficult to integrate emotions that arise from previously neglected / shunned parts of themselves. Too surprised when hearing these ‘new’ voices, they instinctively silence them. My job is to help them listen.
~ Justin Hepler, Dolores Albarracín. Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013
Photo credit: duncan c (Tell a Hater, I Love you loads)