Can You Really Go Home? a Qualitative Analysis of Attitude Change in College Students



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Individuals are born into membership groups and are socialized through affiliations, ideals, and systems of belief that are not of their own choosing. These memberships can include, but are certainly not limited to, family members, social communities, cultural groups, and political and religious affiliations. At some point in our lives, we are faced with beliefs or attitudes held by our membership groups that are in conflict with our own views or beliefs. Some of these inconsistencies are mild and avoidable, while others are severe and threaten our connection. This study is a qualitative examination of those extreme examples of dissonance which can lead to separation from our memberships. More specifically, it examines the extent to which college can play the role of catalyst in this separation. This examination is accomplished by conducting a series of narrative interviews with individuals who have attended college and experienced a change in attitude or belief held by prior membership groups. Experiences and themes are compared and contrasted to determine what effects college has on an individual’s shift in attitudes, values, and beliefs. Additionally, the ways in which the adoption of new attitudes, values, and beliefs affect communication with members of these groups is studied.



Social learning, Membership groups, Reference groups, Attitude change