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S. Christian Wheeler and Kenneth G. DeMarree

The authors document a program of research examining desired attitudes. Desired attitudes are attitudes that people would like to hold, and can differ from the attitudes they actually hold. One potent source of desired attitudes is the identities that people have or would like to adopt (for example, people might desire attitudes that are consistent with their identities, roles and desired identities). The authors describe studies demonstrating that people’s desired attitudes can predict behavior and information-processing in parallel with the influence of people’s actual attitudes. In other words, actual and desired attitudes can predict both behavior and evaluative responses independently, and in opposing directions when they are discrepant. The authors describe research building on this observation that find that the magnitude of actual_desired attitude discrepancies predicts the extent to which people feel conflicted and ambivalent in their attitudes. They discuss the construct of desired attitudes in relation to other related concepts.