Attitude: Its Relation With Thought And Behaviour

Attitude: Its Relation With Thought And Behaviour

We have a tendency to believe that people act in accordance with their attitudes. Social psychologists, on the other hand, have discovered that attitudes and actual behaviour are not always perfectly aligned. Although attitude and behaviour are closely related, they are distinct concepts. 


1.     Attitude is a personal trait, whereas behaviour is a social trait. In other words, behaviour can easily be observed by others because it is external, whereas attitude is encapsulated within the individual's mind and thus cannot be observed immediately by others. 
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2.    Attitude refers to how you feel, whereas behaviour refers to how you act. Attitude is concerned with the mind, whereas behaviour is primarily concerned with actions. 
3.    Attitude is a mental state, whereas behaviour is a physical state. A person's behaviour can be influenced by their attitude. Someone who has the right attitude may also have the right behaviour. However, people sometimes act in ways that are consistent with their attitudes, and other times they act in ways that are not. 
4.    Attitude refers to a person's point of view on a given topic. The way one responds to the environment's impulsions and pulls is referred to as behaviour. The person's attitude can influence this response. 

5.    Though one's attitude is not visible from the outside, one's behaviour can be used to judge one's attitude. Someone can be said to have a positive attitude toward the poor. It is clear from the individual's actions. As a result, even though attitude and behaviour are two distinct concepts, they are related in some ways.
Attitude: Its Relation With Thought And Behaviour



La Piere conducted what is likely the most widely cited study of the attitude–behaviour relationship in the early 1930s. La Piere visited more than 200 hotels and restaurants while travelling across the western United States with a Chinese couple. Only one restaurant refused to serve the Chinese couple. Six months later, La Piere wrote to the owners of each of the hotels and restaurants, inquiring whether they catered to Chinese visitors. Surprisingly, 92 percent of those who responded said they did not welcome Chinese visitors. As a result, there was a startling disparity between the attitudes expressed in response to La Piere's letter and actual behaviour toward the Chinese couple with whom La Piere had travelled. Instead of Chinese guests, an African American guest was the subject of a similar study, which found a significant gap between people's reported attitudes and their actual behaviour. 
•    Although a large number of studies suggest that attitudes have no influence on behaviour, attitudes can sometimes predict behaviour. Studies of voting behaviour, for example, have consistently found a strong link between pre-election attitudes and voting. People essentially vote for the candidates they like.
•    Everything from no correlation to a nearly perfect relationship has been discovered through research. As a result, the answer to the question "Does there seem to be a link between attitudes and behaviour?" is a resounding "sometimes." 
•    Given the variety of findings, it becomes clear that the issue of attitude–behaviour consistency requires a different approach: Rather than asking if attitudes influence behaviour, we should ask, “Under what circumstances do what kinds of attitudes of what kinds of individuals predict what kinds of behaviour?”
•    We need to treat the strength of the attitude–behaviour relationship like any other dependent variable and figure out what influences it.


•    A social psychologist's interest in predicting a person's behaviour based on their attitudes can range from the very specific (will the person attend church services this week?) to the very general (how many religious rituals will the person perform over the next month?).
•    A question that is equivalently specific to the action in question, the target of the action, the context in which the action is performed, and the time of the action (e.g., "How do you feel about attending your friend's wedding this Sunday?") is the best predictor of a specific behaviour. 
•    Prior to the mandated use of lead-free gasoline, a study found that questions specifically about buying lead-free petrol were better predictors of actual lead-free petrol purchases than questions assessing more general attitudes toward ecology.
•    A general attitude measure, on the other hand, is the best predictor of a general pattern of behaviour. 
•    Participants' overall attitudes toward "being religious" were used to predict the likelihood of performing a variety of specific religious behaviours (e.g., praying before or after meals, donating money to a religious institution) and a general measure of performing religious behaviours that was a composite measure of the many specific religious behaviours in one study.


•    Some people tend to be more consistent in their attitudes and behaviours than others.
•    In general, two types of people have been considered: 
1.    Those who are aware of and guided by their internal feelings
2.    Those who rely heavily on situational cues to determine how to act. 
•    People who are aware of their feelings have more consistent attitudes and behaviours than people who rely on situational cues.

•    Individuals' internal feelings and external cues can both influence their behaviour. 
•    Nonetheless, a number of personality dimensions have been developed and successfully used to determine whether a person prefers to rely on one type of cue over the other. 

Two personality dimensions are listed below:

A.    Level of moral reasoning:
•    It has been discovered that the level of moral reasoning influences the relationship between attitudes and behaviour. Moral reasoning at a higher level is characterised by principled, morally responsible thought based on people's own general moral principles. 
•    Lower levels of reasoning are concerned with the overall positive or negative consequences of a specific action, as well as a sense of being constrained by social or legal rules. 
•    People who make moral decisions based on their own feelings and principles act much more consistently with their attitudes toward moral issues than people who rely on external standards to determine what is moral.
B.    Self-monitoring:
•    People who have a low self-monitoring score claim to be guided by their dispositions (i.e., their inner feelings). 
•    They concur with statements like "Most of the time, my behaviour reflects my true inner feelings, attitudes, and beliefs."
•    People who score high on the self-monitoring scale, on the other hand, see their behaviour as stemming from a pragmatic concern with what is appropriate in each situation. 
•    They agree with statements like "I often act like very different people in different situations and with different people." As a result, these people are said to keep track of the impressions they make on other people and adjust them to meet others' expectations.
•    Attitudes are more consistent in low self-monitors than in high self-monitors.
•    People who focus on themselves (e.g., people with high moral reasoning and/or low self-monitoring) tend to act more consistently with their attitudes.
•    People who are more influenced by the environment or other external factors, on the other hand, are less likely to act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs (e.g., people with low moral reasoning and/or high self-monitoring).


The strength of the attitude–behaviour relationship is also influenced by a number of situational variables. These include normative factors and the need to make a decision quickly.

A.    The Effect of Norms:

•    Norms, or beliefs about how one should or should not behave in a particular situation, can have a significant impact on behaviour. 
•    People frequently act in the way they believe others expect them to act. A norm can be so strong and widely accepted that almost everyone in a situation behaves in the same way, regardless of their feelings.
•    For example, wish that someone was dead, but you would almost never act on this wish. As a result, there is a lack of consistency between attitudes and behaviours.

B.    Time Pressure:

•    When people are under time constraints, they are more likely to base their decisions on their attitudes because their attitudes serve as a heuristic for making quick decisions. 
•    People are pushed away from a thorough examination of the available information and toward relying on their pre-existing attitudes by time constraints.
•    For example, asked participants to consider job applications from both male and female candidates. When participants were not under time constraints and could carefully consider all of the details, their personnel decisions were unrelated to their attitudes toward working women. 
•    That is, participants who previously reported prejudice against women were just as likely to recommend hiring a female candidate as those who did not. 
•    When participants were under time pressure to make a hiring recommendation, however, an attitude–behaviour relationship emerged.
•    Prejudice against women made participants less likely to recommend hiring a female candidate. The preceding example also demonstrates that, from a societal standpoint, there are times when consistency in attitude and behaviour is undesirable. Acting in accordance with an attitude, in this case, results in discrimination against certain groups in our society.


Some attitudes appear to be more powerful than others. The word "stronger" is not used in this context to imply that the attitude is more extreme. Stronger, on the other hand, refers to the apparent impact of one's attitude on one's behaviour. 
In fact, in all of the studies mentioned above, groups of participants with varying degrees of attitude strength were compared, but the distributions of attitude scores (i.e., the extremes of attitudes) in each group were equivalent.

1.    The Role of Direct Experience

•    The manner in which one's attitude is formed is an example of an attitudinal quality. On the one hand, attitude formation occurs through direct behavioural interaction with the attitude object, and on the other, attitude formation occurs through indirect non-behavioural interaction with the attitude object. 
•    For example, a child's attitude toward a toy may be formed through direct experience with the toy (direct experience) or through a friend's or an advertisement's description of the toy (indirect experience) (indirect experience). 
•    Direct experience-based attitudes have been found to be more predictive of later behaviour than indirect experience-based attitudes.

2.     Attitude Accessibility

•    The accessibility of attitudes based on direct experience versus those based on indirect experience is one factor that distinguishes them. 
•    In this context, accessibility refers to how quickly certain attitudes come to mind. Some attitudes spring to mind without any conscious effort on the part of the individual. 
•    When people see a cockroach, the first thing that comes to mind is probably "Yuck!" This attitude would be extremely easy to recall. However, sometimes people must think long and hard about their feelings toward a particular object. If you're asked to choose between several restaurants, you might have to think long and hard about which one you prefer. This attitude would be impossible to recall from memory.
•    The time it takes people to answer whether they like or dislike something is one way to measure how accessible an attitude is from memory, as these examples demonstrate.
•    Attitudes formed through first-hand experience are easier to recall. Such attitudes have a practical value as well. Accessible attitudes make it easier to make decisions. 
•    Consider what it would be like if you had to decide which flavour of ice cream you wanted every time you went into an ice cream parlour by going through the entire menu and weighing the relative merits of each type of ice cream. Making the decision would take a long time, and it would most likely be stressful. When the fact that you really like two flavours comes to mind, however, making a decision becomes much easier. Because accessible attitudes are so easily remembered, they make decision-making much easier. 
•    Discussing the functional value of accessible attitudes implies that they serve a variety of important functions for people, which they do. Accessible attitudes, on the other hand, have a dark side. Accessible attitudes can be difficult to change, resulting in people being rather closed-minded when it comes to topics about which they have accessible attitudes.
Attitude: Its Relation With Thought And Behaviour


•    There are two mechanisms through which attitudes can influence behaviour.
•    The main difference between the two mechanisms is the extent to which the behaviour is thoughtfully planned in advance of its actual performance rather than being a spontaneous reaction to a person's perception of the current situation.
•    The individual may reflect and deliberate about a behavioural plan and decide how he or she intends to behave in the first mechanism. As a result, the person may consider the implications of his or her attitude consciously.
•    When buying a car or deciding which college to attend, for example, a person will think about the decision for a long time and weigh all of the benefits and drawbacks before making a behavioural decision.
•    Alternatively, the individual may not actively reflect on his or her attitude in the second mechanism, but that attitude may influence how the person interprets the current event and, as a result, affect behaviour. 
•    When deciding between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, people rarely consider the positive and negative aspects of each flavour. Instead, the individual's attitudes toward the various flavours determine which one appears to be the best at the time.
•    Theory of Reasoned Action is based on the first type of process. Model of the attitude-to-behaviour process depicts the latter.

1.     Theory of Reasoned Action:

•    People deliberate about the wisdom of a particular course of action, according to the theory of reasoned action. 
•    The single best predictor of an individual's eventual behaviour, according to this theory, is his or her behavioural intention. When forming a behavioural intention, an individual considers a number of factors. The individual considers, weighs, and combines various factors. 
A.    His or her perspective on the behaviour in question
B.    Behavioural norms that are subjective.
•    Subjective norms, the second component, includes both a person's beliefs about what important others think he or she should do and a person's motivation to follow these others' wishes. 
•    When deciding whether or not to attend college, one should consider what his or her friends and parents think about it, as well as how important it is to follow his or her friends' and parents' wishes.

2.    Model of the attitude-to-behaviour process:

•    The theory of reasoned action assumes that a person's attitude and its implications for a particular course of action guide behaviour through conscious consideration and deliberation. 
•    The process model, on the other hand, suggests that attitudes can guide a person's behaviour even if they do not actively reflect and deliberate on them. 
•    When someone sees a cockroach, he or she is unlikely to think about how unsanitary cockroaches are, nor will he or she consider what other people think about smashing the cockroach. The cockroach would vanish before anyone had a chance to decide how to react if people did engage in such extensive thinking. 
•    Instead, the process model contends that an individual's attitude toward cockroaches would characterise this situation as unpleasant, and that the individual would act on this feeling or impulse.

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