Communicating Attitudes

People’s attitudes or opinions are useful to themselves, but they also exist in a social context and are often communicated with others (Itzchakov & DeMarree, 2022). Characteristics of our attitudes may determine how we communicate these attitudes to others (e.g., by forcing our opinions onto others; Rios et al., 2014). Newer work in our lab examines the social context of people’s attitude expressions. For example, one project examines the inferences people make about a person’s communication attempts (e.g., are they trying to persuade me?). Another project examines actual interactions and attempts to understand how different interpersonal goals can shape the psychological experiences of conversations about one’s attitudes as well as interpersonal and attitudinal outcomes.

Motivated Attitude Change

Although attitudes are very useful, helping people act quickly and affiliate with important identities, we don’t always have the attitudes we’d like. Research in my lab finds that people frequently want attitudes that differ from their current ones. These discrepancies can arise for a range of reasons, are uncomfortable (DeMarree et al., 2014) and can guide information seeking, information processing, and behavior (DeMarree et al., 2017). Although change attempts are sometimes successful (Vaughan-Johnston et al., 2023), discrepancies often persist (Wheeler & DeMarree, 2019). Ongoing projects seek to examine people’s lay theories of self-directed attitude change and to identify the conditions under which people are most likely to pursue their desired attitudes.