Attitude and Human Behavior
Attitude refers to feelings, beliefs and behavior predispositions directed towards people, groups, ideas or objects. It influences the behavior of the individuals. It decides how to act or behave in a particular situation. Attitude is a kind of habit. It is a usual way of doing things. Everything in a person `s life will get better if the attitude of the person gets better. Successes and failures in life depend upon the attitude of the individuals. If attitudes are positive, then human relations will be positive. It is internal and very difficult to change.
Behavior is the way a person responds to his attitude. This response is either positive or negative, depending on how that views his position. For example, an child who disagrees with his parents may ignore to go chool or study. In addition, an person who dislikes another person or has little respect towards him may display this attitude by speaking harshly to this individual. Behavior can be influenced by a number of factors beyond attitude, including preconceptions about self and others, monetary factors, social influences, and convenience. It is the actions or reactions of a person in response to external or internal stimuli. It indicates the manner in which something functions or operates inside.
Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. This can include evaluations of people, issues, objects, or events. Such evaluations are often positive or negative, but they can also be uncertain at times. For example, you might have mixed feelings about a particular person or issue. Researchers also suggest that there are several different components that make up attitudes. The components of attitudes are sometimes referred to as CAB or the ABC’s of attitude.
- Cognitive Component: your thoughts and beliefs about the subject.
- Affective Component: how the object, person, issue, or event makes you feel.
- Behavioral Component: how the attitude influences your behavior.
There are a number of factors that can influence how and why attitudes form.
- Experience – Attitudes form directly as a result of experience. They may emerge due to direct personal experience, or they may result from observation.
- Social Factors – Social roles and social norms can have a strong influence on attitudes. Social roles relate to how people are expected to behave in a particular role or context. Social norms involve society’s rules for what behaviors are considered appropriate.
- Learning – Attitudes can be learned in a variety of ways. Consider how advertisers use to influence your attitude toward a particular product. In a television commercial, you see young, beautiful people having fun in on a tropical beach while enjoying a sports drink. This attractive and appealing imagery causes you to develop a positive association with this particular beverage. People also learn attitudes by observing the people around them. When someone you admire greatly espouses a particular attitude, you are more likely to develop the same beliefs. For example, children spend a great deal of time observing the attitudes of their parents and usually begin to demonstrate similar outlooks.
Factors That Influence Attitude Strength
Researchers have discovered that people are more likely to behave according to their attitudes under certain conditions:
- When your attitudes are the result of personal experience.
- When you are an expert on the subject.
- When you expect a favorable outcome.
- When the attitudes are repeatedly expressed.
- When you stand to win or lose something due to the issue.
Attitudes Can Change to Match Behavior
In some cases, people may actually alter their attitudes in order to better align them with their behavior. Cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon in which a person experiences psychological distress due to conflicting thoughts or beliefs. In order to reduce this tension, people may change their attitudes to reflect their other beliefs or actual behaviors. Imagine the following situation: You’ve always placed a high value on financial security, but you start seeing someone who is very financially unstable. In order to reduce the tension caused by the conflicting beliefs and behavior, you have two options. You can end the relationship and seek out a partner who is more financially secure, or you can de-emphasize fiscal stability importance. In order to minimize the dissonance between your conflicting attitude and behavior, you either have to change the attitude or change your actions.
While attitudes can have a powerful effect on behavior, they are not set in stone. The same influences that lead to attitude formation can also create attitude change.
- Learning Theory of Attitude Change: Classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning can be used to bring about attitude change. Classical conditioning can be used to create positive emotional reactions to an object, person, or event by associating positive feelings with the target object. Operant conditioning can be used to strengthen desirable attitudes and weaken undesirable ones. People can also change their attitudes after observing the behavior of others.
- Elaboration Likelihood Theory of Attitude Change: This theory of Persuasion suggests that people can alter their attitudes in two ways. First, they can be motivated to listen and think about the message, thus leading to an attitude shift. Or, they might be influenced by characteristics of the speaker, leading to a temporary or surface shift in attitude. Messages that are thought-provoking and that appeal to logic are more likely to lead to permanent changes in attitudes.
- Dissonance Theory of Attitude Change: As mentioned earlier, people can also change their attitudes when they have conflicting beliefs about a topic. In order to reduce the tension created by these incompatible beliefs, people often shift their attitudes.
Changing attitudes to change behavior
Attitude and behavior are woven into the fabric of daily life. Research has shown that individuals register an immediate and automatic reaction of “good” or “bad” towards everything they encounter in less than a second, even before they are aware of having formed an attitude. Advertising, political campaigns, and other persuasive media messages are all built on the premise that behavior follows attitude, and attitude can be influenced with the right message delivered in the right way.
The fields of social and behavioral psychology have researched the relationship between attitude and behavior extensively. The more psychologists can understand the relationship between attitude and behavior and the factors that influence both, the more effectively they can treat mental disorders, and contribute to the dialogue on important social problems such as racism, gender bias and age discrimination.
Changing behavior to influence attitudes
In 1955, clinical psychologist and educator George Kelly introduced his psychology of personal constructs. Kelly’s constructs were based on the idea that each individual looks at the world through his or her own unique set of preconceived notions about it (i.e., constructs). These constructs change and adapt as the individual is exposed to new and different situations. At the heart of Kelly’s theory is the idea that individuals can seek new experiences and practice and adapt new behaviors in order to change their attitudes (or constructs) towards the world. He recommended that therapists encourage their patients to try out new behaviors and coping strategies; he and others that followed frequently found that patients would adapt these useful new behavior patterns and subsequently change their attitudes.
When behavior is inconsistent with attitude, it is sometimes a result of social or peer pressure. While adult behavior generally follows from held attitudes, for children, attitudes are often shaped by observed behavior. From a very young age, children copy the actions of others and, to a degree, build their attitudes and beliefs from this learned behavior. As children grow into adolescence, the behavior of their peers can have a significant impact. Sometimes this peer pressure factor can be used to an advantage. One research study found that antismoking campaigns targeted at teenagers can have a higher success rate when adolescent peers are used as instructors.
The most powerful moderators of the attitudes behavior relationships have been found to be importance of the attitude,its specificity, its accessibility, whether there exist social pressures, and whether a person has direct experience with theattitude.Important attitudes are ones that reflect fundamental values, self-interest, or identification with individuals orgroups that a person values. Attitudes that individuals consider important tend to show a strong relationship to behavior.The more specific the attitude and the more specific the behavior, the stronger is the link between the two. Attitudes that are easily remembered are more likely to predict behavior than attitudes that are not accessible in memory. Interestingly you are more likely to remember attitudes that are frequently expressed. So the more you talk about your attitude on a subject, the more you are likely to remember it, and the more likely it is to shape your behavior. Discrepancies between attitude and behavior are more likely to occur when social pressures to behave in certain ways hold exceptional power. For everybody keep learning to form your attitude to lead to positive behavior.