Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"Development and Validation of the Causal Attitude Network (CAN) Model"

University of Amsterdam - Social psychology

PhD Student
Jonas Dalege

Dr. Frenk van Harreveld (University of Amsterdam)
prof.dr. Denny Borsboom (University of Amsterdam)
prof.dr. Han L.J. van der Maas (University of Amsterdam)

1 January 2015 - 31 December 2018

University of Amsterdam


The project focuses on developing and validating a novel theory on attitudes: The Causal Attitude Network (CAN) model. In the CAN model, attitudes are conceptualized as networks of causally related evaluative reactions (i.e., beliefs, feelings, and behaviors). Evaluative reactions (e.g., feeling hopeful toward and judging a presidential candidate as caring) are represented as nodes and causal influences between evaluative reactions are represented as edges of varying strength (e.g., feeling hopeful toward a presidential candidate because one judges the candidate to be caring). The CAN model provides formalized predictions for several areas of research on attitudes. For example, from the CAN model it follows that attitudes are likely to show a small-world network structure, that strong attitude correspond to highly connected networks, and that ambivalent attitudes cause discomfort when the corresponding attitude network is strongly connected. In addition to these hypotheses, we will also investigate whether structural properties of attitude networks can improve prediction of behavior and how attitude networks grow (i.e., by which principles do new evaluative reactions connect to old evaluative reactions). A subproject will also focus on developing techniques to model individual attitude networks.

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