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During the 1930s, many Gestalt psychologists, most notably Kurt Lewin, fled to the United States from Nazi Germany.They were instrumental in developing the field as something separate from the behavioral and psychoanalytic schools that were dominant during that time, and social psychology has always maintained the legacy of their interests in perception and cognition.Attitudes and small group phenomena were the most commonly studied topics in this era. After the war, researchers became interested in a variety of social problems, including gender issues and racial prejudice.During World War II, social psychologists studied persuasion and propaganda for the U. Most notable, revealing, and contentious of these were the Stanley Milgram shock experiments on obedience to authority.Examples would include liking chocolate ice cream, or endorsing the values of a particular political party.Social psychologists have studied attitude formation, the structure of attitudes, attitude change, the function of attitudes, and the relationship between attitudes and behavior.
One hypothesis on how attitudes are formed, first advanced by Abraham Tesser in 1983, is that strong likes and dislikes are rooted in our genetic make-up.
Because people are influenced by the situation, general attitudes are not always good predictors of specific behavior.
For example, for a variety of reasons, a person may value the environment but not recycle a can on a particular day.
Obviously, attitudes are formed through the basic process of learning.
Numerous studies have shown that people can form strong positive and negative attitudes toward neutral objects that are in some way linked to emotionally charged stimuli.