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When and How do Attitudes Influence Our Behaviour.


Is there a possibility that attitudes do not always predict behaviour.

If So  write down an example. (Use an example from your own experience if you wish) (5 mins)


We are firstly going to look at 3 experiments which have contributed to modern day Attitude-Behaviour Research


The first study to demonstrate a possible gap between attitudes and behaviour was completed by LaPierre(1934)




Social Psychologist : Wanted to discover if people who had various prejudices / negative attitudes towards the members of various social groups would actually demonstrate these behaviours in their Overt(open) behaviour.


For approx 2 years LaPierre travelled around the U.S.A with a young Chinese couple. They stopped at 184 restaurants and 66 hotels.


They were refused service only once and on the whole received a better than average standard of service from the establishments visited.


After returning from 2 years travelling around LaPierre wrote to all the businesses where he and the Chinese couple had dined / stayed. In a letter which gave no indication of his previous visit, he enquired whether they would offer service to Chinese Visitors and the results were as follows




As you can see from the bar charts virtually all the businesses visited served the Chinese couple. However most said in a mail survey that they would not serve the Chinese Visitors.


These results demonstrate a tremendous gap between the attitudes expressed by these businesses(mail survey) and their actual behaviour when confronted by Chinese guests(in the flesh)



The Chinese with whom LaPierre travelled were attractive and spoke English well. Faced with such persons the businesses ignored their own prejudiced attitudes.

LaPierre concluded that there is a sizeable gap between attitudes and behaviour (what people say and what they actually do)


Working with the person sitting next to you write down 3 reasons why there could be a problem the accuracy of this study.(5 Mins)


Methodological Problems with the LaPierre study are

1. Were the people who answered the mail research the same as the people who allowed the chinese couple to stay or eat.

2. Only 50% of people completed the mail questionnaire.

3. Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) argued that LaPierre was trying to predict specific behaviour from general attitudes (i.e taking into account general attitudes towards Chinese People,instead of taking into account specific attitudes demonstrated towards the Chinese Couple)(This is what prompted Azjen and Fishbein(1980) to produce their theory of reasoned action.


DeFleur & Westie(1958)


Attempted to relate specific attitudes to specific behaviours in order to overcome the problems of the LaPierre study.

Can you please make your own notes from what I am going to read out


In order to do this

DeFleur & Westie asked a large number of  white students specific questions about Blacks and Whites to gain a measure of prejudice.

The white students were then asked to be photographed with their black colleagues. 

30% of the white students behaved differently from their previously expressed views ( this meant they were either prejudiced and agreed to be photographed or were unprejudiced but refused to be photographed)


Again this demonstrates a difference between attitude and behaviour.


Theory of Reasoned Action- 'Correspondence' -- Fishbein and Ajzen(1975)

Behaviour may be accurately predicted if we know a person's attitude to that behaviour, intention to perform that behaviour and what that person believes to be the consequences of performing that behaviour. Also one needs to know the social norms with respect to that behaviour, with all this information Fishbein and Ajzen argue it is possible to predict the behaviour of the person.

Problems with this approach include

1) Peoples intentions (with the best will in the world) don't always match behaviour

2) People can easily be distracted from carrying out their original intentions (i.e if something important happens in your personal life it could quite easily affect your behaviour to college work even if you started off with different intentions.





When Do Attitudes Influence Behaviour ?


Firstly we need to understand the term moderators


Moderators : The different factors which affect when attitudes influence behaviour.


Most Moderators are related to aspects of the situation, aspects of attitudes themselves and aspects of individuals.


Aspects of the Situation

1) Situational Constraints - Ajzen & Fishbein (1980)

Sometimes people can't express their attitudes because doing so would be contrary to the norms in a given social situation

2) Time Pressure - Jamieson & Zanna (1989)

When people are under time pressure they tend to fall back on their attitudes more (Gut Feeling) Therefore the Attitude Behaviour Link is higher when there is time pressure.


3) Situational Factors - Snyder & Ickes (1985)

We tend to prefer situations that allow us to maintain a close link between our attitudes and behaviour. This tends to make us spend time in situations in which what we say and what we do coincide. (i.e If you are a cricket fan, you wouldn't hang around with a group who wants to ban the sport because they think its boring)


Debono & Snyder (1995) - argue that because individuals tend to choose situations where they can engage in behaviours consistent with their attitudes, the attitudes themselves become strengthened and so become better predictors of their behaviour.


Aspects of Attitudes Themselves

Behaviour is sometimes moderated by several aspects of attitudes.


Attitude Origins - Regan & Fazio(1977)-

Attitudes formed on the basis of direct experience often exert stronger effects on behaviour than ones formed indirectly through hearsay.


Attitude Strength - Petvoka, Ajzen & Driver(1995) -

The stronger attitudes are the greater their impact on behaviour.

Kraus(1995) -

As well as strong attitudes exerting a greater impact on behaviour they are also more resistant to change(in effect more stable over time)

Strength is defined by

1) the extremity or intensity of an attitude (i.e how strong is the emotional reaction provoked by the attitude object)

2) Its Importance (how deeply the individual is affected personally by the attitude)

Boninger, Krosnick and Berent (1995) argued that there were 3 factors which played the major roles in the determination of attitude importance

a) Self Interest

b) Social Identification

c) Value Relevance

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3) Knowledge (how much an individual knows about an attitude object)

4) Accessibility (how easily the attitude comes to mind in various situations)

The strength of the attitude object-evaluation link in memory.(Obviously the stronger the link the greater the ease that an attitude can come to mind)

5) Specificity(An example of specificity would be if you were designing an attitude scale to try and find out whether people would regularly attend cricket matches. It would be best to ask them about their attitudes about attending cricket matches rather than asking about their attitudes in general to the sport of cricket.)


Krosnick et al(1993) argued that all these  components are related and play a role in attitude strength.


Aspects of Individuals

Individual Differences

Some people use their attitudes as an important guide to behaviour (look inwardly for behaviour)

Some people look around them and behave in a manner which they feel is the closest to people around them in order to 'fit in' (look outwardly to find out how to behave).This type of 'fitting in behaviour' is known as Self-Monitoring.


DeBono and Snyder(1995) (Attitudes are seen as better predictors of behaviour for low self-monitors)



How Do Attitudes Influence Behaviour

1) Theory of Planned Behaviour-Azjen & Fishbein(1980)

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How we will act in a certain situation is dependent on our strength of intentions with respect to that situation. A persons intentions are influenced by 3 main factors, We are going to use an example of a person having a tattoo. First factor is

a) attitude toward the behaviour in question

a1) Will the needle hurt while having the tattoo

b) subjective norms

b1) if the person thinks people will approve of the tattoo his intention to have it done is likely to increase

c) perceived behavioural control

c1) how easy/ hard the behaviour is to accomplish. If the person views it as easy they are more likely to perform it.


Attitude to Behaviour Process Model - Fazio (1989)

Attitudes which influence behaviour in an immediate manner (i.e when you haven't got time to think for example a drunk walks into your path swearing and cursing at you, you have to behave in a certain way to get yourself out of that situation)


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In Conclusion

Attitudes are Related to behaviour especially if they are strong and important and acquired through direct experience. Other factors which relate attitudes to behaviour are if attitudes influence individuals' self-interest and come readily to mind.


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