The effects of accountability on attitudes: Is attitude justification facilitated by appeals to important personal values?



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Texas Tech University


The purpose of this research was to assess whether values or specific instrumental beliefs would be predictive of attitudes under conditions of accountability. Justifying an attitudinal position may facilitate the use of important personal values as rationales for other beliefs and for the attitude itself Values may play a more significant predictive role in symbolic attitudes (i.e., attitudes that are expressive of important personal values) than instrumental attitudes (i.e., attitudes that reflect proximal and direct self-interests). Values predictiveness may be moderated by attitude importance and attitude specificity. Accountability may be a limiting condition for the principle of compatibility (Ajzen; 1988, 1989), which states that beliefs will be predictive of attitudes to the extent that they are both located at the same level of specificity. To explore this possibility participants rendered estimates of attitude importance and then were told that they would have to justify their attitudes, or were simply be told that their responses would be confidential. The participants then completed the Schwartz (1992) Value Survey and a Theory of Reasoned Action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) measure assessing instrumental beliefs and attitudes. Results showed that instrumental beliefs were much better predictors of attitudes than values, regardless of accountability, symbolic or instrumental attitude type, the degree of attitude specificity, or attitude importance. These results lend support to the Theory of Reasoned Action and the role of instrumental beliefs in the prediction of attitudes. A suggestion for fiiture research is proposed.



Values, Ethics, Conduct of life