How do attitudes arise
Change of attitude
Attitudes research becomes difficult when certain attitudes need to be changed. Attitude change programs contain at least two things:
1) as a basis a theory of attitude or attitude change and
2) a strategy, technique, or program.
Almost all attitude theories - of which there are over 200 with all variants - are also theories of attitude change. They can be divided into seven different groups, depending on which hiring concepts or change processes they have as a central requirement.
a) The large group of Consistency theories, to which as the most prominent theory the Cognitive dissonance theory counts, imply balanced attitude structures as a target. Attitude changes are caused or can be induced by imbalances, contradicting information, incompatibility of attitudes and behavior.
b) Learning theory approaches are used as the second largest theory group both for the acquisition and for the stabilization and change of attitudes, whereby the reinforcement principle plays a decisive role in these theories. An exception here are those approaches that explain the acquisition and change of attitudes through social learning or model learning, since reinforcement is only of secondary importance in this case.
c) Functional approaches emphasize the relevance of attitudes to our everyday actions. They are used, for example, to create a certain impression in others, to justify our actions and to maintain a positive self-image. In addition, they are also assigned the function of heuristics, i.e. those judgment strategies in which subjectively reliable decisions are made very quickly on the basis of minimal information.
d) Information processing theories understand attitudes as the subjective integration of information that is emotionally enriched to a greater or lesser extent (information processing).
e) Process models, which play an important role especially in recent attitude research, are primarily geared towards finding different processes of information processing, but also the acceptance and rejection of, for different types of attitudes - what is usually decisive is personal interest and the extent to which they are affected information offered.
f) Persuasion models relate primarily to the conditions for changing attitudes depending on the communication content presented. They specify, for example, the conditions under which maximum or minimum changes in attitudes can occur, such as the degree of credibility, the induced fear or the relevance of the content.
G) Social Influence Theories form a kind of "interface" between influence models from the social psychology of intergroup relationships and attitude research. Among other things, they make statements about the style of argumentation through which minorities can influence the attitudes of majorities or the extent to which an actor can be put under pressure by the composition of an audience. Among the more recent attitude theories, the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) should be mentioned, a process model with which attitude changes can be described and explained depending on the relevance of the attitude content. One attitude change technique that has proven to be relatively successful is to get people to agree to a small request or favor and then, having "one foot in the door" in this way, the actual, but substantially extensive, or larger request to be made (foot-in-the-door technique). Mere thinking about one's own attitude (mere thought) usually leads to a polarization of one's own attitude, so that slightly positive or negative attitudes become significantly more positive or negative. The mere repetition (mere exposure) of presented attitude stimuli usually leads to a more positive appreciation. Behavior that people carry out voluntarily under normal circumstances can probably be drastically reduced in its occurrence if it is additionally rewarded (overjustification effect). On the other hand, if one tries to narrow down people's scope for behavior or to completely prohibit them from certain behaviors, then this leads to a motivational state in almost all people, which is known as reactance and which activates the person to make great efforts to regain the freedom that has been lost (For a comprehensive description see Zimbardo & Leippe, 1991).
Attitude and behavior
Last but not least, the most precise possible determination of the relationship between attitude and behavior and the predictor function of attitudes for behavioral intentions and behavior is an important legitimation for the entire attitude research, which can show a broad spectrum of studies for a whole range of areas of life. In the meantime, based on meta-analyzes (Six & Eckes, 1996), more well-founded assessments of attitude-behavior relationships can be made. The averaged correlations between attitudes and behavior in more recent meta-analyzes are greater than r = .36 and between attitudes and behavioral intentions greater than r = .40. Not least because of the two dominant theories in this area, the theory of deliberate action and planned behavior, this area of attitude research has been freed from the trauma of its "scandalously low" agreement. In the meantime, there are about 20 different theories in attitude-behavior research, but these two models are by far the most successful, measured by their predictive power. If the function of these models is primarily to predict actions and behavior, taking into account the attitude variable, there are a number of other models and approaches that the moderators of the relationship between attitude and behavior make the subject of their investigation. The MODE model proposed by Fazio (1990) is able to explain behavior that occurs spontaneously and for which attitudes are only of secondary importance, and also to explain behavior that requires decision-making processes in which the alternatives are weighed as rationally as possible become. Attitude research has been in bloom for several years, but if you take a closer look, despite all the euphoria, you will also have to remember topics that are not on the current crest of publications: the emergence and development of attitudes, their changes, which can be recorded through longitudinal studies and improving attitudes measurement techniques are not currently on the agenda.
Eagly, A.E. & Chaiken, S. (1993) The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Fazio, R.H. (1990). Multiple processes by which attitudes guide behavior. In M.P. Zanna (Ed.) ,.Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 23, pp. 75-109). New York: Academic Press.
Robinson, J.P., Shaver, P.R., & Wrightsman, L.S. (1991). (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psycholopgical attitudes. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Schwarz, N., Groves, R.M., Schuman, H. (1998). Survey Methods. In D.T. Gilbert, S.T. Fiske, G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (Vol. I, pp. 143-179). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
Six, B. & Eckes, T. (1996). Meta-analyzes in attitude-behavior research. Journal of Social Psychology, 27, 7-17.
Zimbardo, P.G. & Leippe, M. R. (1991).The psychology of attitude change and social influence. New York. McGraw-Hill.
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