Do Attitudes Predict Behaviour?

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People often said attitudes do predict behaviour and I agree with it, but attitudes only predict behavior in some way but not all the way. According to Hogg and Vaughan (2011), attitude is a relatively enduring organisation of feelings, beliefs and behavioural towards socially significant objects, groups, symbols or events. It can be also define as a general feeling or evaluation (positive or negative) about some person, object or issue. Attitudes can be form in four different ways which are mere exposure, self-perception, associate learning and functional reason.

Mere exposure is the more exposure, more positive feeling to a stimulus and no action is required. Associative learning is divided to classical conditioning (implicit) and operant conditioning (explicit). Implicit has no action is require in participant while explicit is participant must carry out actions such as rewarded or punish. Self-perception is attitude formed through observation of our own behavior. Functional reasons are attitudes form to satisfy psychological need.

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Behavior refers to the actions and mannerisms made by systems, organisms, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment. Attitudes and behaviours must be measured at the same level of specificity. For example, “attitude-behaviour consistency can be varying according to whether: an attitude is more rather than less accessible; an attitude is expressed privately or publicly such as when answering a questionnaire; an individual identifies strongly or weakly with a group for which the attitude is formative. ( Hogg and Vaughan , 2011, p. 155) Better prediction depends on accounting for the interaction between attitudes, beliefs and behavioral intentions. In this equation, we need to establish the level of a person’s belief (how strong or how valuable). For example, a young and heterosexually active man’s belief towards two methods of birth control. He may hold a very strong belief that the pill is a highly reliable method while the condom is less. Similarly, he thinks that using a condom is embarrassing in a sexual encounter.

His further belief that using a condom has no side effects is not enough to offset the effects of other two beliefs. We could only be fairly confident about predicting his future behavior by having all this information. Hogg and Vaughan cites Ajzen and Fishbein believed that success in predicting the way we behave is determined by asking whether we would perform a given act or a series of acts. In a study of women’s attitudes towards birth control which measured at different levels of specificity. (2011, p. 57) The measures are ranging from very general to very specific: ‘Attitude towards birth control’ (0. 08); ‘Attitude towards birth control pills’ (0. 32); Attitude towards using birth control pills’ (0. 53); and attitudes towards using birth control pills towards the next three years(0. 57). From this study, it indicates clearly that the closer that question to the actual behaviour, the behaviour was predicted more accurately. The accessibility of the attitude is an important factor when we assume it is specific.

Accessibility refers to the strength of an attitude, or how fast that attitude comes to mind in response to the attitude object. Accessibility attitudes can exert strong influence on behaviour. The study of attitudes towards Greenpeace showed that people with very positive attitudes towards Greenpeace were much more likely to make donation than those with weak positive attitudes. For instance, we use the attitude of hypothetical person Jess towards lawyers in predicting his willingness to intern with a lawyer. If Jess’s attitude is highly accessible (i. e. he responds immediately) when she is being asked about her feeling towards lawyer, then studies have shown that this attitude will be a better predictor of her behaviour. (Oracle Think Quest) According to Hogg and Vaughan, as direct experience with the attitude object increases, an attitude will become more accessible Attitudes which are formed through actual experience are more consistently to behaviour. Suppose Kimberly has participated in several chemistry experiments but Lulu has only read about them. Therefore, prediction of Kimberly’s willingness to participate in the future is more accurately than Lulu’s.


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