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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2005;9(3):231-74.

A connectionist model of attitude formation and change.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.


This article discusses a recurrent connectionist network, simulating empirical phenomena usually explained by current dual-process approaches of attitudes, thereby focusing on the processing mechanisms that may underlie both central and peripheral routes of persuasion. Major findings in attitude formation and change involving both processing modes are reviewed and modeled from a connectionist perspective. We use an autoassociative network architecture with a linear activation update and the delta learning algorithm for adjusting the connection weights. The network is applied to well-known experiments involving deliberative attitude formation, as well as the use of heuristics of length, consensus, expertise, and mood. All these empirical phenomena are successfully reproduced in the simulations. Moreover, the proposed model is shown to be consistent with algebraic models of attitude formation (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The discussion centers on how the proposed network model may be used to unite and formalize current ideas and hypotheses on the processes underlying attitude acquisition and how it can be deployed to develop novel hypotheses in the attitude domain.

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