Published on January 17, 2008
Behavior and Attitudes: Behavior and Attitudes Attitudes and Behavior Chicken and then the Egg Egg and then the Chicken…. Definition: Definition Attitude A favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction toward something or someone exhibited in one’s beliefs, feelings, or intended behavior. Sometimes referred to as the ABC’s of attitudes (affect, behavior, cognition) Attitude-Behavior Consistency: Attitude-Behavior Consistency Despite intuitive belief that attitudes determine behavior, large body of research indicates that attitudes are actually a poor predictor of behaviors This begins with LaPiere (1934) and his travels with a Chinese couple 1 out of 184 refuse them service, when he writes after the trip 91% of the 128 who respond say that they would refuse service to Chinese Question can be asked – why the inconsistency? Attitude-Behavior Consistency: Attitude-Behavior Consistency Wicker (1969) presented seminal review article on the lack of correspondence between expressed attitudes and behavior. Domains include: Cheating Church attendance Racial attitudes Breast feeding Do attitudes ever guide behavior?: Do attitudes ever guide behavior? Yes! What factors lead to attitude-behavior correspondence? Real vs. expressed attitudes. A measured attitude may not be a person’s ‘true’ attitude. Bogus pipeline: convince subjects that you have a machine that measures hidden attitudes. Once convinced they are more truthful. Do attitudes guide behavior?: Do attitudes guide behavior? One instance vs. aggregate Think of sports statistics Look at attitudes that are specific to the behavior (Ajzen and Fishbein) Do you like to go out to eat vs. do you like Thai food. Attitudes are more likely to guide behavior if attitude is made salient (e.g., ask people to consider their attitudes, make self-conscious). Does Behavior Determine Attitude?: Does Behavior Determine Attitude? Role Playing Stanford Prison Study Foot in the door phenomenon Agreeing to a small commitment frequently leads to larger commitments Tendency for both good and evil acts toward others to escalate. How does behavior “cause” attitude?: How does behavior “cause” attitude? Self-presentation theory Suggests that it is an issue of impression management. That is, we desire, and it is favorable, to appear consistent. True at times, however, does not indicate how people may ‘internalize’ and come to adopt these new attitudes. How does behavior “cause” attitude?: How does behavior “cause” attitude? Cognitive Dissonance Theory Proposed by Leon Festinger Original definition: a state of tension that occurs whenever an individual simultaneously holds 2 cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent. For example, if I say I hate someone and then I am nice to them (without being forced to be) I am likely to view them more positively. However, attitude won’t change if there is sufficient justification for having been nice to them. Dissonance as a consequence of making a decision: Dissonance as a consequence of making a decision Dissonance arises when choosing between 2 equally attractive alternatives. After our choice we reduce dissonance through confirmation bias Jack Brehm – Participants rate two gifts as equally desirable. Give participants choice of 1 of these 2 gifts. Immediately after, chosen gift is now evaluated as more attractive. Educational and Parenting Implications: Educational and Parenting Implications Both reward and severe punishment provide external or sufficient justification. If we desire students to internalize educational lessons and to form a desire to learn, we must avoid rewarding them too much for their efforts Mark Lepper: children who play with a puzzle in order to gain a greater reward are much less likely to spontaneously play with that toy in the future Can explain previous effort on the puzzle in terms of external justification, not enjoyment. Parenting Implications: Parenting Implications If we want the child to internalize an attitude, severe punishment may not be effective Severe punishment = external justification (e.g., I am doing this because my hide will be tanned otherwise, not because I want to) Aronson and Carlsmith: mild threat and toy choice Children who received a mild threat were much less likely to choose that toy in the future than were those exposed to a severe threat (e.g., forbidden fruit) Self Perception Theory: Self Perception Theory First proposed by Daryl Bem Effects are nothing more than reasonable inferences that people make about their own attitudes based upon their perceptions of their behaviors. Similar to how observers draw conclusions about our attitudes from our behaviors Does not work well when applied to important attitudes, but may explain ambivalent situations Overjustification Effect: Overjustification Effect Rewarding people for activities they enjoy may backfire. According to self-perception theory a person may observe the situation and attribute their actions to the reward not their intrinsic motivation. For example, professional athletes who begin to view their sport as opposed to something they used to love.