Attitude – White Paper

 

In order to measure the attitude expressed within a text, our system uses semantic differential to categorize words based on their connotative meaning.

A semantic differential scale is a list of opposite adjectives, and it is a method invented by Charles E. Osgood, Ph.D in 1957 in order to measure the connotative meaning of cultural objects.

This type of scale was initially an application of Osgood’s more general attempt to measure the meaning of words, particularly adjectives, and their referent concepts. The respondent is asked to choose where his or her position lies, on a scale between two bipolar adjectives (for example: “Good-Bad” or “Valuable-Worthless”).

Example:

Strong

____:____:____:____:____:____:____

Weak

Decisive

____:____:____:____:____:____:____

Indecisive

Good

____:____:____:____:____:____:____

Bad

Cheap

____:____:____:____:____:____:____

Expensive

Active

____:____:____:____:____:____:____

Passive

Lazy

____:____:____:____:____:____:____

Industrious

The development of this instrument provides an interesting insight into the border area between linguistics and psychology, between the words used and the impact they have on a person.

 

Evaluation, potency, and activity

Charles Osgood, together with his colleagues, performed a factor analysis of large collections of semantic differential scales and found that there are three recurring attitudes that people use to evaluate words and phrases: evaluation, potency, and activity.

The adjective pair ‘good-bad’ best defines the evaluation factor. The ‘strong-weak’ adjective pair defines the potency factor, while the adjective pair ‘active-passive’ defines the activity factor. These three dimensions of affective meaning were found to be cross-cultural universals in a study of dozens of cultures.

This factorial structure makes intuitive sense, because when our ancestors encountered a person, the initial perception had to be whether that person represents a danger. Is the person good or bad? Next, is the person strong or weak? Our reactions to a person naturally differ if perceived as bad and strong, bad and weak, good and strong or good and weak. Subsequently, we might extend our initial classification to include cases of persons who actively threaten us or represent only a potential danger, and so on.

The evaluation, potency and activity factors represent a detailed descriptive system of personality. Osgood’s semantic differential measures these three factors and it does so by using sets of adjective pairs such as:

  • Positive — Negative (evaluative)
  • Passive – Active (activity)
  • Strong — Weak (potency)
  • Loud — Quiet (activity)
  • Cheap — Expensive (evaluative)
  • Beautiful — Ugly (evaluative)
  • Delicate — Rugged (potency)
  • Calm — Excited (activity)
  • Feminine — Masculine (potency)
  • Hard — Soft (potency)
  • Fast — Slow (activity)
  • Relaxed — Stiff (potency)

 

Uses of semantic differential.

The semantic differential scale is today one of the most widely used in the measurement of attitudes. One of the reasons is the versatility of the items. The bipolar adjective pairs can be used for a wide variety of subjects.

Our system uses 3 pairs of adjectives in order to rate the attitude of the person writing the text regarding the topic that is being written about: positive-negative, strong-weak, and active-passive.

 

 

Examples of IntenCheck text analysis – Comparing mission statements

 

Example of a text expressing a positive attitude: Enbridge Energy

“Enbridge Energy will go beyond by building on our pipeline expertise, technology and people to be the company of choice for transportation of hydrocarbon energy and related services. As President of Enbridge Energy Company, Inc., I am committed to the enduring values of integrity, accountability, innovation and flexibility, value creation and social responsibility. Today, these values are more important than ever to our stakeholders. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. and the direct or indirect operator of systems owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. (the Partnership). We strive to be a model of safe, reliable and economical transport of hydrocarbon energy products. With continuous operational improvements, expanding capacity and a strong competitive position for serving strategic North American markets, we are positioned for long-term growth that will benefit our customers and investors. Dan C. Tutcher President Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. General Partner of the Partnership.”

Attitude Value Range Value
Positive therm-very-high 0.997708


Explanation:
The text above has a very high value for the positive attitude category due to the fact that the number of words which have positive connotations (such as ‘benefit ‘, ‘integrity’ , ‘reliable‘ , ‘value’, ‘partnership’) is very high when compared to the total number of words used.

 

Example of a text expressing a negative attitude: Char

“My purpose for being on this earth is to help others recognize, develop, and use their God-given intuitive abilities to ease suffering and grow in goodness, love, compassion, and wisdom. My mission is to help take away fear–the fear of death, by proving that we don’t die and will see our loved ones again, and the fear of living, by showing how we can tap in to our wisest selves and make our lives much happier and easier. My desire is to help each of us connect to the love that is eternal, that is the reason for our existence.”

Attitude Value Range Value
Negative therm-high 0.779131


Explanation:
The text above has a high value for the negative attitude category because the number of words which cause the reader to think about negative things (words such as ‘death‘, ‘fear’, ‘suffer‘) is quite high in comparison to the total number of words used.

 

Example of a text expressing an active attitude: Ecolab

“Our mission is to be the leading global innovator, developer and provider of cleaning, sanitation and maintenance products, systems, and services. As a team, we will achieve aggressive growth and fair return for our shareholders. We will accomplish this by exceeding the expectations of our customers while conserving resources and preserving the quality of the environment.”

Attitude Value Range Value
Active therm-very-high 0.933305


Explanation:
The text expresses an active attitude because within a short paragraph, a large number of words presuppose a proactive approach. Here are a few examples of such words: ‘accomplish’, ‘achieve’, ‘exceed’, ‘lead’, ‘aggressive’.

 

Example of a text expressing a passive attitude: Char

“My purpose for being on this earth is to help others recognize, develop, and use their God-given intuitive abilities to ease suffering and grow in goodness, love, compassion, and wisdom. My mission is to help take away fear–the fear of death, by proving that we don’t die and will see our loved ones again, and the fear of living, by showing how we can tap in to our wisest selves and make our lives much happier and easier. My desire is to help each of us connect to the love that is eternal, that is the reason for our existence.”

Attitude Value Range Value
Passive therm-very-high 0.995289


Explanation:
The text above expresses a passive attitude due to the large number of words which presuppose the lack of an active response. These are words such as: ‘being’, ‘recognize’, ‘desire’, ‘love’, ‘see’ , ‘suffer’, ‘grow’.

 

Example of a text expressing a strong attitude: Get rolling website

“I am a committed recreational skater’s advocate. I will do everything in my power to ensure that novices achieve the most positive first experience possible. This means encouraging them to buy the best equipment they can afford and to learn the basic skills, especially how to use the heel brake. To fight skate bans due to congested popular trails, I will help more experienced skaters build their speed and hill skills so they can train on a wider variety of trails without the risk of alienating other users. I will continue to encourage all skaters to improve their skills so they can adopt a well-rounded inline lifestyle.”

Attitude Value Range Value
Strong therm-very-high 0.995232


Explanation:
The paragraph above uses a lot of words which intensify the message expressed and create a lasting impression on the reader. A few examples of such words which were used in this text are: ‘achieve’, ‘ensure’, ‘fight’, ‘power’, ‘speed’, ‘most’.

 

Example of a text expressing a weak attitude: Maui Real Estate

“Fred Haywood is committed to helping you buy or sell your dream home in the highest professional manner, with total integrity and knowledge. Fred Haywood has sold over seventy million dollars worth of residential properties in just the last five years, and is ready to help you will all your real estate needs.”

Attitude Value Range Value
Weak therm-high 0.785564


Explanation:
The short paragraph above uses plenty of words that help soften the message which is communicated. A few examples of such words, taken from the text above, are: ‘have’, ‘help’, ‘needs’.

 

References:

  1. Himmelfarb, S. (1993). The measurement of attitudes. In A.H. Eagly & S. Chaiken (Eds.), Psychology of Attitudes. Thomson/Wadsworth
  2. Osgood, C.E., Suci, G., & Tannenbaum, P. (1957) The measurement of meaning. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press
  3. Snider, J. G., and Osgood, C. E. (1969) Semantic Differential Technique: A Sourcebook. Chicago: Aldine.
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_differential
  5. http://www.indiana.edu/~socpsy/papers/AttMeasure/attitude..htm
  6. http://www.missionstatements.com/fortune_500_mission_statements.html
  7. http://www.missionstatements.com/personal_mission_statements.html