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Relationships among attitude extremity, polarity, and intensity

August 9, 2017

Research Problem: Is the addition of a separate attitude –intensity measuring instrument warranted when using the semantic differential? Additionally, an analysis of the implications between the extremity-intensity variables, as defined by the social judgement instrument, and the polarity variable, as defined by the semantic differential scale.



1) There will be a statistical correlation between extremity on the social judgement


and polarity on the semantic differential,
2) There will be a statistical correlation between intensity on the social judgement and polarity on the semantic differential at each level of extremity on the social judgement scale.


Method: Data was collected on the attitudes of 821 persons during the 1972 presidential campaign. The instrument package consisted chiefly of the social judgement and semantic differential instruments. The accuracy of the semantic differential as an attitude-intensity measuring device was
tested with an instrument known to measure intensity, the social judgement.


Results: The results confirm both hypotheses examined. The majority of the chi-squares (statistical tests) were significant at the .01 level. However, a good portion of non-involved persons existed at polarized ends of the semantic differential, suggesting that subjects did not have to be intense to be extreme or vice versa.


Conclusion: Evidence substantiated the prediction that the semantic differential was an accurate indicator if directional attitude change. Regarding the second hypothesis, using involved and non- involved subjects meant that intensity was not only a matter of extremity, or polarity, but of moderation. That is, subjects did not always have to be extreme to be intense. So that while the semantic differential appeared to measure adequately attitude intensity, its utility in measuring intensity “variance” was questionable. Therefore, the addition of a separate intensity measure seems warranted to probe the nature and depth of attitude intensity.



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