Attitude formation





Attitudesare defined by psychologists as feeling of acceptance or denialtowards something. On the other hand, behavior is the reactionoccurring in response to an internal stimulus. Behaviors can beinfluenced by other factors beyond attitude that includespreconceptions about self and others, social influences and monetaryfactors (Weiner, 2013). Components of attitudes includes theemotional component, which is described as the feeling, whichemanates from an issue. Cognitive component is the belief about thesubject, and a behavioral component is how attitude influencesbehavior. Attitudes are infectious and can either affect a person’sbehavior positively or negatively.

Aperson with a positive attitude is usually cheerful and upsetting himor her is difficult. This is manifested in the person’s behaviorwhen he is active and improves the mood of those surrounding. Incontrast, a person with a negative attitude is reflected in hisbehavior. They seem upset and quick to anger. Attitude can also beexpressed in many ways. For instance, if a person has a positiveattitude towards the labor party, he might miss the public meetings.However, a failure to participate in labor party elections willindicate the presence of an attitude. Attitude predicts behavior.Sometimes people alter their attitudes so as to align them betterwith their behaviors (Weiner, 2013).

Cognitivedissonance is a condition where a person experiences a psychologicaldistress due to conflicting thoughts. In order to reduce tension, anindividual can change the attitude to reflect the actual behaviors.Attitudes formation is as a result of direct personal experience orthrough observations (Halloran, 2008). The attitude of a child isshaped by observed behavior. For instance, children copy actions ofothers and construct their beliefs and attitudes based on theirobserved behavior. Peer pressure occur due to inconsistency betweenbehavior and attitude. Social roles and norms can influence attitude.Social roles explain how people are expected to behave while socialnorms are rules the society consider appropriate for certainbehavior.

Accordingto Fazio and Olson, attitudes are formed via three processes namely,affect, cognition and behavior (Hogg, 2007). Affect is emotion andthus an attitude from this process has strong emotional components.The processes includes classical conditioning, instrumental andobservational learning. Behavioral attitude formation suggests thatin circumstances where one`s attitude is unclear, the individual willreflect their behavior for answers (Halloran, 2008).

Psychologistsexplain that although people behave according to their attitudes,this assumption is not always correct. A person is likely to behavein regard to their attitudes when one expects a favorable outcome.This is common when attitudes are repeatedly expressed or one beingan expert in a certain field.

Attitudescomprise of functions that help protect a person’s image. They helpreinforce positive attitudes that direct one towards achieving goalsor negative attitudes that lead one to threatening situations. Firstwe have adjustments functions. This helps one to attain desired goalsthrough avoiding negative circumstances. For instance, the attitudesof customers depend on their perception on the commodity whether itis satisfying or not.

Secondly,knowledge function is important as it helps make the worldunderstandable and people ascribe causes of events that are likelybeneficial to them. This occurs due to our urge to know what we wantor do not want to understand. Ego defensive function protects ourimage from threatening situations. This involves a degree of bias andis intended to preserve a particular view on people.

Anattitude is molded on the foundation of cognition when people believethat the attitude object possess desirable or undesirable attributes(Eiser, 2009). Cognitive attitude formation trend towards informationapproaches to forming an attitude. Cognition is a mental act by whichknowledge is acquired. Cognitive psychology is the branch ofpsychology that deals with information processing. They studyinternal processes including language, thinking and memory (Eiser,2009). Cognitive approach is scientific and thus uses laboratoryexperiment to study the behavior. However, these laboratoryexperiments have been criticized for lacking ecological validity.

Empiricaltheory suggests that attitudes are inconsistent and unpredictable.People modify thinking in an effort to reduce dissention andself-justification. Reactions are driven by environmental factors. Inmost cases, attitudes impact behavior, and this helps people organizeinformation and reflect behavior (Ashford et al., 2010). Further,attitudes can be formed from past experiences and knowledge.

Formany years, the study of relationships assumed that attitudes controlbehavior. They believed that the understanding of attitudes wouldhelp predict behavior accurately. Experiments conducted show thatthis assumption is false. A simple model was tested wherebyattitudinal factors and external conditions were combined toinfluence behavior. This model predicted that behavior is a monotonicfunction of attitude and external conditions. The significance of therelationship between attitude and behavior is a curved function ofthe influence of the external conditions and the applicability ofattitude models.

Recently,a clearer picture has emerged, and attitudes have been found to havean effect on behavior. Behavior processes are influenced by past andcurrent interactions. These processes affect the way people judge andrespond to information. Further, actions and conduct do not alwaysmatch people’s inner convictions


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Cooper,J., &amp Hogg, M. A. (2007). TheSAGE handbook of social psychology.Los Angeles: Sage.

Eiser,J. R., &amp Eiser, J. R. (2009). Socialpsychology: Attitudes, cognition, and social behavior. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Halloran,J. D. (2008). Attitudeformation and change.Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Mills,A. J. (2007). Organizationalbehavior in a global context.Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press.

Weiner,I. B. (2013). Handbookof psychology.Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.