Students' attitudes toward their major discipline : implicit versus explicit measure of attitude

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shauna Moody (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Winford Gordon

Abstract: Student satisfaction with their academic major is an important aspect of student satisfaction to explore. There were three main purposes of this study: (1) to address major satisfaction directly by comparing an explicit measure of attitude, the Academic Major Satisfaction Scale (AMSS) developed by Nauta (2007), with an implicit measure of attitude, a revision of the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) developed by Payne, Cheng, Govorun, and Stewart (2005); (2) to measure major satisfaction at different levels in the college experience by using a cross-sectional design to examine how satisfaction levels differ over the duration of the college experience; and (3) to implement the AMP into the study of satisfaction. It was predicted that (1) the implicit and explicit attitudes towards the participants’ major discipline will become more positive as they progress through college, (2) that the implicit measure of attitude towards their own major discipline will be more positive than towards other major disciplines, and (3) that the implicit measure of attitude towards their major discipline will be correlated with explicit measure of attitude at the same point in the college experience. Ninety-nine students were divided into three groups based on the number of credit hours they had completed in college: Early (less than 44 credit hours, n=28), Mid (between 45 and 89 credit hours, n=33), and Late (greater than 90 credit hours, n=38). The study was conducted in a group setting with the instructions, the AMP, the AMSS, and the demographics composed in a video with audio and projected in front of a classroom. All the data was collected on a Scantron form. The AMP consisted of 44 triads of primes (presented for 250 ms; including 12 iconic representations of each construction management, music and psychology and 4 of each known pleasant and unpleasant images from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS; Lang, Bradley & Cuthbert, 1995)), neutral targets (Chinese characters presented for 1 s), and a numbered filler (present for 5 s). The participants were asked to rate the neutral targets on a 4-point scale ranging from “much more pleasing than average” to “much less pleasing than average.” The AMSS consisted of the 6-item scale developed by Nauta and included the statement “I am satisfied with my academic major.” Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with each statement on a 5-point scale ranging from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree.” Results showed that there were no significant differences in either the explicit measure of attitude or implicit measure of attitude toward various major disciplines at any level of the college experience nor did either attitude measure increase across time indicating that attitudes towards one’s major may not differ across time. Since there were no significant differences in the attitudes towards the individuals’ own major, Psychology, and other majors it is possible that psychology may be a difficult major to represent in iconic images. This would limit the use of the AMP to measure attitudes toward this major. Finally, the explicit measure of attitude’s scores did not correlate with the implicit measure of attitude’s scores, indicating that this explicit measure of attitude capture a different attitude than an implicit measure of attitude.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
AMP, AMSS, attitude, implicit attitudes, major satisfaction, student satisfaction
College students -- Attitudes
College majors -- Psychological aspects
Attitude (Psychology)

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