Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 12, Iss. 1, January, 2008, pp. 75-86
@2008 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Dynamics of Attitudes and Genetic Processes

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Denise D. Guastello, Carroll College, Waukesha, WI

Abstract: Relatively new discoveries of a genetic component to attitudes have challenged the traditional viewpoint that attitudes are primarily learned ideas and behaviors. Attitudes that are regarded by respondents as "more important" tend to have greater genetic components to them, and tend to be more closely associated with authoritarianism. Nonlinear theories, nonetheless, have also been introduced to study attitude change. The objective of this study was to determine whether change in authoritarian attitudes across two generations would be more aptly described by a linear or a nonlinear model. Participants were 372 college students, their mothers, and their fathers who completed an attitude questionnaire. Results indicated that the nonlinear model (R2 = .09) was slightly better than the linear model (R2 = .08), but the two models offered very different forecasts for future generations of US society. The linear model projected a gradual and continuing bifurcation between authoritarians and non-authoritarians. The nonlinear model projected a stabilization of authoritarian attitudes.

Keywords: attitude change, generation gap, genetics, attractor, bifurcation