In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is. — Chuck Reid
One week into graduate school, and I’m already fulfilling the graduate student stereotype: I eat primarily PB&J sandwiches, I only shave when I get bubblegum in my beard, and I don’t have a bed.
Currently, two couch cushions, a sheet, and the floor are treating me quite fine. Besides, every night I’m either so tired or so drunk that concrete would fare equally well.
However, those hooligan nights are about to change, for today was my first day of classes. And by change, I mean I’ll probably be more tired and on a path to alcoholism.
To briefly explain the structure of my program, I have two primary “jobs:” taking classes (with professors, homework, tests, etc.) that apply to my research, and conducting that research. Classes are pretty sporadic, so the emphasis of my time here is on research.
I, who am in the “Attitudes and Persuasion Lab” (or APL or apple), am researching various topics in the field of, you guessed it, attitudes and persuasion. These topics apply in a variety of different ways to a variety of different fields, but for my research, I will be emphasizing marketing and consumer behavior.
For my first inquiry (as instructed by my mentor), I will be looking at “attitude certainty,” i.e. when you have an attitude (an opinion/valuation) about something, how confident are you that this attitude is the actual attitude you hold.
For example, if I were to ask you which toothpaste is the “best,” and you said Crest, then I could ask you, “Are you certain that Crest is the best?” And depending on your response (assuming it’s not, “Why the hell are you asking me about toothpaste, creep?”) I could establish your attitude certainty.
Why is this important? Well, many people think that their attitude is what it is, but the moment they’re questioned on it, they often find, “Huh, you know, I never really considered if this really is what I believe.” With the assistance of a third year graduate student, we will be investigating attitude certainty and how it affects behavior.
For instance, regardless if you have good reasons for believing coca-cola is better than pepsi (e.g. it tastes better, has fewer calories) versus bad reasons (e.g. I like red cans better than blue ones), your attitude certainty will be the same. That is, you will still be certain that coke is better than pepsi.
However, just because you have the same attitude certainty, your reasons for getting there are totally different—our questions then: how does that affect consumer behavior?
Riveting stuff, I know. But once I have more to share about my screw-ups in the research world, I’m sure I’ll be able to maintain your entertainment.