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Abstract

Judgments of attitude statements with the method of equal-appearing intervals have been found to vary as a function of the judges' attitudes. In this paper explanations of the relationship between judges' attitudes and judgments of attitude statements in terms of models of psychophysical judgment are discussed. It is argued that psychophysical models such as adaptation-level theory, the range-frequency model, and the ‘rubber-band’ model and its derivations, cannot account satisfactorily for judges' performance of the attitude rating task in a great number of studies. The reason for this failure, it is argued, is that the stimulus series employed in the psychophysical judgment research on which these models are based typically varied only on the dimension being judged. The sets of statements judged in attitude rating studies, however, vary not only on the dimension of interest (favourability—Unfavourability) but also on a number of other dimensions. It is suggested that this incidental stimulus variation of attitude statements may account for the failure of psychophysical models to predict accurately the performance of judges in the attitude rating task. It is argued that if principles which could account for the effects of this incidental stimulus variation on attitude ratings could be incorporated into psychophysical models, the predictive qualities of these models could be improved considerably. One such model is discussed.