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Centrality, Extremity, Intensity: Neglected Variables in Research on Attitude-Behavior Consistency

Karen Kay Petersen and Jeffrey E. Dutton
Social Forces
Vol. 54, No. 2 (Dec., 1975), pp. 393-414
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2576642
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2576642
Page Count: 22
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Centrality, Extremity, Intensity: Neglected Variables in Research on Attitude-Behavior Consistency
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Abstract

This article aims to alert researchers interested in the attitudes vs. action debate to a long-standing discontinuity between research and theory. Our review of 28 recent reports of research on the attitude-behavior relationship indicates a consistent neglect of theoretical formulations specifying the relevance of object-centrality, attitude extremity, and attitude intensity for understanding attitude-behavior consistency. Yet, bits and pieces of relevant data gleaned from these reports plus the results of our secondary analysis of data gathered in 1969-70 from some 19,000 members of the 1966 cohort of U.S. college freshmen point clearly to the conclusion that these variable properties of attitude merit most careful consideration in attitude-behavior research. Indeed, they suggest that the failure of past empirical investigations to spport the assumption, central to the work of many scholars and practitioners, that attitudes are important keys to understanding behavior may be due, at least in part, to this gap between research and theory.

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