Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour

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Attitude is evaluation or judgements of social and physical world. It has three components (ABC components):

1. Cognitive : opinion formed from the available information. Basis the availability of information through newspaper and people around you , you have information that traffic police take bribe for not issuing challan for jumping red light. Your information may be suffering from availability bias, as only negative information are published in newspaper without publishing positive aspect of traffic police.
2. Affective : Feelings and emotions such as pleasure, hate, fear, anger, happiness, sorrow that we may feel when presented with object or others action. You jump a traffic light and stopped by traffic police. Basis the action of traffic police, feeling and emotions will generate.
3. Behavioral : Basis the experience of feelings and emotions, behavior is formed. If a traffic police gives you warning and let you go, positive feelings and emotions will shape for a positive attitude towards traffic police.

Other factors affecting attitude and behavior are :

Personal Importance:

- Any act that is personally relevant. For eg. a law targeting you.
- In case any act is not relevant to a person, he may take cognizance of the act but will not internalize or process it as it is not relevant to him thus would not impact his behavior.

Attitude Accessibility:

- Ease with which one can retrieve from memory.
- Older incidents / experience are hard to retrieve


- Individual seeks to reconcile divergent attitude and align attitude and behaviour so they appear rational and consistent.

Social Pressure:

- social norms. eg. Jains don't eat non-veg.
- for adjusting in the society. eg - you quite non-veg to adjust in their society.


- unless you have experienced the action or object , it is unlikely that strong attitude will be formed
- You like dog (cognitive). Dog bites you (action). Pain and hate feeling (Affective - internalization of feeling). Dogs are bad (attitude based on your experience)
- Attitude based on experience can hardly be changed by persuasion.

Attitudes may be classified under two major categories :
1 Symbolic Attitude :

- formed from value and thus hard to change
- eg : attitude of responsibility towards family, love marriage etc.
- values describes individual or personal standards of what is valuable or important. Values are internalized and hard to change thus symbolic attitude are also most difficult to change.

2 Instrumental Attitude :

- based on utility and direct benefit.
- Instrumental attitudes can be changed by providing proper incentive for the correct behaviour and discouraging unwanted behaviour.

Functions of Attitude

utilitarian: Associated with rewards. eg : You are in love thus suddenly your attitude towards love marriage has changed.
Knowledge: Give and organize view about world, Bring clarity. eg. it may be difficult to judge a person and their intentions on first meeting. However, based on the past knowledge, one develop image of similar type looking person in brain. Basis the organized view, we are able to take quick decision. A curly haired person is for example intelligent or English speaking person is executive, blacks are mostly not trustworthy , girls are not trustworthy etc eg. gender stereotype
Ego-defensive: Protect from harsh reality. more likely to use the ego-defensive function when we suffer a frustration or misfortune. For example a consumer who has made a poor purchase decision or a poor investment may staunchly defend the decision as being correct at the time or as being the result of poor advice from another person. Such ego defensive attitude helps us to protect out self image and often we are unaware of them.
Value Expressive: Demonstrate one's self image to others. eg. Hedonic purchases like purchasing latest model of car to reflect and establish social status.

Relation between Attitude & Values

  • values are guiding principles , value are core around which beliefs are organized.
  • Values can shape attitude, but not all.
  • Symbolic attitudes are based on values -arranged marriage.

Relationship between Attitude & Beliefs

  • Attitude can be considered as sum of beliefs. A person can have many belief about a phenomenon. Based on overall evaluation of belief will have attitude.
  • for example a person may have positive beliefs associated with cricket that it unites country, is entertaining ,however, he may also have negative beliefs like cricket is a long duration game thus waste time, due to cricket other games are being neglected. Basis the evaluation of all positive and negative beliefs associated with cricket attitude will be formed.
  • Beliefs and values are central to the dynamic forces that form and transform existing attitudes.

Changing Attitude

Classical conditioning : Create Positive emotional reaction to an object
Operant conditioning: strengthen desirable attitude and weaken undesirable ones.
Elaborate Likelihood Theory : Think about message (CORE ROUTE). Influence by speaker - temporary shift in attitude (peripheral route)
Dissonance Theory:
Social Influence: