JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Attitude Strength

Lauren C Howe, Jon A Krosnick
Annual Review of Psychology 2017 January 3, 68: 327-351
27618943
Attitude strength has been the focus of a huge volume of research in psychology and related sciences for decades. The insights offered by this literature have tremendous value for understanding attitude functioning and structure and for the effective application of the attitude concept in applied settings. This is the first Annual Review of Psychology article on the topic, and it offers a review of theory and evidence regarding one of the most researched strength-related attitude features: attitude importance. Personal importance is attached to an attitude when the attitude is perceived to be relevant to self-interest, social identification with reference groups or reference individuals, and values. Attaching personal importance to an attitude causes crystallizing of attitudes (via enhanced resistance to change), effortful gathering and processing of relevant information, accumulation of a large store of well-organized relevant information in long-term memory, enhanced attitude extremity and accessibility, enhanced attitude impact on the regulation of interpersonal attraction, energizing of emotional reactions, and enhanced impact of attitudes on behavioral intentions and action. Thus, important attitudes are real and consequential psychological forces, and their study offers opportunities for addressing behavioral change.

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