FREE ASSOCIATION AND ATTITUDE
MARYLAND UNIV BALTIMORE DENTAL SCHOOL
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This study analyzed the relationship between the strength of attitude and the response availability through free-word association. A simple attitude scale was developed from the responses to a list of 8 attitude items by a group of 182 college students. Then 2 stimulus words related to the attitude chosen, and 2 neutral words were placed separately on 4 pages. The subjects were asked to list the word associations for each key word. Two analysis-to-variance tests were carried out. In the first, only the associations to 1 stimulus word per subject were studied. The 176 subjects were divided into a favorable and an unfavorable group the upper and lower 50 and randomly assigned to the 8 cells of the experimental design. There was a tendency to respond with a greater number of free associations to emotionally toned words which are in common usage than to those in less common usage. There was no significant variation in the number of free associations attributable to position on the attitude scale. However, the coarse grouping of the subjects into upper and lower 50 may obscure variations associated with the attitude variable. In the second analysis, the attitude scale was divided into 9 groups, with group 1 including the subjects most favorable to the attitude and group 9, those least favorable. The difference between the mean number of associations for high- and low- frequency words and the difference between the means associated with the kinds variable were statistically significant. This second analysis indicated that attitude and frequency of occurrence of stimulus words do affect verbal behavior.