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Attitude Change

Attitude Change

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Published by: Prateek on Jul 31, 2010
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10/25/2012

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ATTITUDE CHANGE
Attitude:
Attitudes logically are hypothetical constructs (i.e., they are inferred but not objectivelyobservable), they are manifested in conscious experience, verbal reports, overt behavior, andphysiological indicators.In academic psychology parlance, attitudes are positive or negativeviews of an "attitude object": a person, behavior, or event. Research has shown that people canalso be "ambivalent" towards a target, meaning that they simultaneously possess a positive anda negative attitude towards it. The quality of ones attitudes is judged from the observable,evaluative responses that are made. Attitudes are sometimes regarded as underlyingpredispositions, attitudes equates with unconscious and irrational tendencies.
Components:
Attitudes have three main components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The cognitivecomponent concerns one's beliefs; the affective component involves feelings and evaluations;and the behavioral component consists of ways of acting toward the attitude object. Thecognitive aspects of attitude are generally measured by surveys, interviews, and other reportingmethods, while the affective components are more easily accessed by monitoring physiologicalsigns such as heart rate. Behavior, on the other hand, may be assessed by direct observation.
Attitude change:
Unlike personality, attitudes are expected to change as a function of experience, and there arenumerous theories of attitude formation and attitude change. The study of attitude changethat is, the processes by which people acquire new attitudeshas been a major focus of socialpsychological research since the mid-20th century, and work in this field has led to theoreticaldevelopments.
y
 
C
ognitive dissonance theory,
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P
ersuasion
Cognitive dissonance theory
There are many occasions in everyday life when we feel compelled to say or do thingsinconsistent with our true attitude, e.g. your friend shows you her new shirt and askshow you like it. You really hate the color, but you dont say that. Instead you say nicereally nice.The reason for behaving in these polite but slightly dishonest- ways is so obvious thatsocial psychologists describe such situation as involving induced compliance- situation inwhich we feel compelled to say or do things inconsistent with our true attitude. Whenwe behave in this way- when we engage in attitude discrepant behavior- this maysometimes produce changes in the attitude we hold. In fact, our attitude may shifttoward what we felt compelled to do or say, thus reducing the size of the gap betweenour true attitude and our overt actions.
 
The term cognitive dissonance refers to the feeling we experience when we notice a gapbetween two attitudes we hold, or between our attitudes and our behavior. Dissonanceit appears is quite unpleasant, so when we experience it we attempt to reduce it. Wecan accomplish this in several different ways:1.
 
We can change our attitude or our behavior so that these are more consistentwith each other.2.
 
We can acquire new information that supports our attitude or our behavior.3.
 
We can engage in trivialization- conclude that the attitude or behavior inquestion are not important.All of these approaches can be viewed as direct ones to dissonance reduction: theyfocus on attitude-behavior discrepancies that are causing dissonance. Research bySteele and his colleagues indicates that dissonance can also be reduced through indirecttactics- ones that leave the basic discrepancy between attitudes and behavior intact butreduce the negative feeling generated by dissonance. According to Steele, adoption of such indirect routes to dissonance reduction is most likely to occur when attitudebehavior discrepancies involves important attitude on self beliefs. Under thesecondition individual experiencing dissonance may focus not so much on reducing thegap between their attitudes and their behavior as on self affirmation- efforts to restorepositive self evaluation that are threatened by the dissonance. Self affirmation can beachieved by focusing on their positive self attributes- good things about themselves.
Dissonance and the less-leads-to-more effect-
 
Dissonance theory also predicts that theweaker the reasons we have from engaging in attitude discrepant behavior- for sayingor doing things inconsistent with initial attitudes- the greater the pressure to changethese attitudes. This is because when we have strong reasons for engaging in attitudediscrepant behavior, we realize that these reasons are responsible for our saying ordoing things inconsistent with our true attitude. As a result we experience very littledissonance. When we have only weak reasons for engaging in attitude discrepantbehavior, however dissonance is stronger and so is the pressure to change our attitudes.Social psychologists sometime refer to this unexpected state of affairs as the less leadsto more effect.
P
ersuasion:
 
It is the process through which one or more persons attempt to alter theattitudes of one or others.
P
ersuasion aims only indirectly at changing our behavior.
P
ersuasion aims first at changing our attitudes; attitude change, it is hoped will lead tobehavior change.
P
sychologists have learned various facts about persuasion:
y
 
E
xperts are more persuasive than non experts. The same argument carry moreweight when delivered by people who seem to know what they are talkingabout than when they are made by people lacking expertise.
y
 
M
essages that do not appear to be designed to change our attitude are oftenmore successful in this respect than ones that seem intended to reach this goal.In others word, we generally dont trust and generally refuse to be influenced bypersons who deliberately set out to persuade us.

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