Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Penny S. Visser

Penny S. Visser

I am primarily interested in attitudes - how they influence the way we process information, how they motivate and guide our behavior, how they are influenced by the social context in which we hold them, and how we maintain them in the face of persuasive appeals.

One of my primary lines of research examines changes over the adult life span in the durability and impactfulness of our attitudes, and the social and psychological mechanisms responsible for this age-related fluctuation. A second line of research explores the impact of various features of the social context in which we are embedded on the durability and impactfulness of our attitudes. I am also exploring the features of attitudes that determine their strength, and the distinct cognitive and motivational processes through which particular attitude features enable people to resist attitude change. Finally, I am examining the relation between the psychological function that an attitude serves and the determinants of attitude strength. Crosscutting my specific interests in attitudes and persuasion is a more general interest in political psychology, and several strands of my research have been carried out within the political context.

I also have several secondary lines of research. I am interested, for example, in the antecedents and consequences of counterfactual cognitions, or thoughts about what might have been, and I am interested in the motivational underpinnings of attributions of responsibility and judgments about guilt, blame, and punishment.

Primary Interests:

  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Group Processes
  • Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Political Psychology
  • Research Methods, Assessment

Research Group or Laboratory:


Journal Articles:

  • Fabrigar, L. R., Visser, P. S., & Browne, M. W. (1997). Conceptual and methodological issues in testing the circumplex structure of data in personality and social psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1, 184-203.
  • Green, M., Visser, P. S., & Tetlock, P. E. (2000). Coping with accountability cross-pressures: Low-effort evasive tactics and high-effort quests for complex compromises. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1380-1391.
  • Herrmann, R., Tetlock, P. E., & Visser, P. S. (1999). Mass public decisions on going to war: A cognitive interactionist perspective. American Political Science Review, 93, 553-573.
  • Holbrook, A. L., Krosnick, J. A., Visser, P. S., Gardner, W., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2001). Attitudes toward Presidential candidates and political parties: Initial optimism, inertial first impressions, and a focus on the flaws. American Journal of Political Science, 45, 930-950.
  • Remington, N., Fabrigar, L. R., & Visser, P. S. (2000). Reconsidering the structure of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 286-300.
  • Tetlock, P. E., & Visser, P. S. (2000). Thinking about Russia: Probable pasts and plausible futures. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 173-196.
  • Visser, P. S., & Krosnick, J. A. (1998). The development of attitude strength over the life cycle: Surge and decline. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1389-1410.
  • Visser, P. S., Krosnick, J. A., Marquette, J., & Curtin, M. (1996). Mail surveys for election forecasting? An evaluation of the Columbus Dispatch Poll. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60, 181-227.
  • Visser, P. S., Krosnick, J. A., & Simmons, J. P. (2003). Distinguishing the cognitive and behavioral consequences of attitude importance and certainty: A new approach to testing the common-factor hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 118-141.
  • Visser, P. S., & Mirabile, R. R. (2004). Attitudes in the social context: The impact of social network composition on individual-level attitude strength. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 779-795.

Other Publications:

  • Bizer, G. Y., Visser, P. S., Berent, M. K., & Krosnick, J. A. (2004). Exploring the latent structure of strength-related attitude attributes. In W. E. Saris & P. M. Sniderman (Eds.), Studies in public opinion: Gauging attitudes, nonattitudes, measurement error and change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Visser, P. S., Krosnick, J. A., & Lavrakas, P. J. (2000). Survey research. In C. M. Judd & H. Reis (Eds.), Research methods in social psychology, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Visser, P. S., Krosnick, J. A., Marquette, J., & Curtin, M. (2000). Improving election forecasting: Allocation of undecided respondents, identification of likely voters, and response order effects. In P. J. Lavrakas and M. Traugott (Eds.), Election polls, the news media, and democracy. NY: Chatham House.
  • Visser, P. S., Rasinski, K. A., & Zagatsky, M. (2005). Surveying sensitive topics. In B. Radcliff and S. Best (Eds.), Polling America: An Encyclopedia of Public Opinion. West Port, CT: Greenwood Press.

Courses Taught:

  • Attitudes and Persuasion
  • Political Psychology
  • Psychological Research Methods
  • Social Psychology
  • The Mind
  • Topics in Experimental Social Psychology

Penny S. Visser
Department of Psychology
University of Chicago
5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637
United States of America

  • Phone: (773) 834-8196
  • Fax: (773) 702-0886

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