The basic idea of my line of research is that attitudes can be conceptualized as networks of causally interacting evaluative reactions, such as beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. For example, your attitude toward Barack Obama might consist of judging Obama as competent, charismatic, honest, and moral, feeling proudness and hope about him, and behaviors such as voting for him and convincing others that he is a great president. These different evaluative reactions are connected through direct causal connections. For example, you might feel hopeful about Obama, because you judge him as honest and competent. We used these basic ideas to develop the Causal Attitude Network (CAN) model.
One central postulate of the CAN model is that attitude networks show a high degree of clustering. The reason for this is that clustering within attitude networks allows for an adaptive attitude representation that costs low energy to maintain but that can also fulfil the need to hold accurate attitudes.
Another central postulate of the CAN model is that strong attitudes correspond to highly connected attitude networks. Strong attitudes show similar dynamics as highly connected networks do (e.g., they are stable and resistance to change). We therefore propose that connectivity of attitude networks provides a formalized conceptualization of attitude strength.
You can contact me at j.dalege(at)uva(dot)com