Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 25 Issue 6 (March 1995), Pages 463-555

Salience of Anti‐Abortion Beliefs and Commitment to an Attitudinal Position: On the Strength, Structure, and Predictive Validity of Anti‐Abortion Attitudes (pages 463-483)

The role of beliefs in attitude formation and the impact of commitment to an attitude on its predictive validity were studied in the context of anti‐abortion attitudes. Undergraduates (N= 152), identified as pro‐choice or pro‐life, expressed their beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and restriction preferences with respect to making abortion illegal. In addition, they indicated their commitment to their positions and their willingness to distribute a pro‐ or anti‐abortion petition. Salient beliefs—identified in a pilot study—were found to predict attitudes, intentions, restriction preferences, and petition choice significantly better than nonsalient beliefs. Salient beliefs also discriminated significantly between pro‐choice and pro‐life respondents, providing useful information about the cognitive underpinnings of anti‐abortion attitudes. In addition, accuracy of predictions increased significantly with commitment, even when attitude extremity was statistically controlled. These findings support the summation theory of attitude (Fishbein, 1963) and demonstrate the importance of attitude strength in determining the structure and predictive validity of attitudes.

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