Attitude is an individual’s characteristic way of responding consistently in a favourable or unfavourable manner to objects, people, or events in his environment. It is based on the individual’s experience and his interpretation of it and leads to certain behaviours or opinions.

Attitude reflects how an individual feels about something. Attitude provides a predetermined set of responses, so that a person’s behaviour or opinions can often be forecast in specific circumstances. Attitudes reflect settled behaviour and settled mode of thinking as well as feeling.

Attitudes can be defined variously as readiness to act; mental posturers, guide for conduct, feelings, desires, fears, convictions, a state of readiness! a cumulative perception; a tendency to act for or against an object in the environment; frames of reference that influence behaviour; and so on.

Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Attitude 2. Definition of Attitude 3. Concept 4. Characteristics 5. Nature 6. Structural Components 7. Types 8. Functions 9. Strategies to Change Attitudes


10. Factors Affecting Attitude Formation 11. Scales Used for Measuring Attitudes 12. Theories 13. Models 14. Factors Affecting Attitude Change 15. Attitude Changing Process.

Attitude: Introduction, Definition, Concept, Characteristics, Components, Types, Nature, Functions, Theories and Other Details   

Attitude – Introduction

Attitude is the major factor, which affect the behaviour of a person or an organization. It manipulates the perception of objects and people, exposure to and comprehension of information, choice of friends, co-workers, and so on. The importance of attitudes in understanding psychological phenomenon was given formal recognition early in the history of social psychology.

From the time of the concept’s entry into the language of psychology until now, interest in attitudes has been strong and growing. However, over the years attitudes have been studied with differing emphases and methods. For example, between the period of 1920s and up to World War II the attention of attitude researchers was directed principally towards definitional issues and attitude measurement.

In addition, there were studies concerned with relationship of attitudes to some social variables. World War II brought with it a growing concern about the place of the attitude concept in understanding prejudice, particularly anti-Semitism.


This period also brought the measurement of attitudes and opinions concerning various facts of soldiering and war. After the war, the subject of attitudes was taken up by academicians, particularly in the context of attitude change. Till now, the researchers have developed a loosely structured theoretical framework formulating the psychological processes underlying attitude change and the direct application of the study of attitudes to contemporary social problems.

Attitudes have usually been associated with the notion of ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ someone or something. That is, attitudes are inner expression or feelings that reflect whether a person is favourably or unfavourably predisposed to a product or brand or establishment.

Long ago a psychologist, Gordon Allport had given a classic definition of attitudes, which says- “Attitudes are learned predispositions to respond to an object or class of objects in a consistently favourable or unfavourable way”.

There could be several implications of this definition:


1. Attitudes are learned- This means attitudes get formed on the basis of some experience with or information about the object.

2. Attitudes are predispositions and reside in the mind of the individual.

3. Attitudes cause consistent response- This means attitudes precede and produce behaviour.

Martin Fishbein has defined ‘attitude’ in a way that it can be useful in predicting behaviour. As per this definition a person’s overall attitude towards an object is said to be the function of (a) the strength of each of a number of beliefs the person holds about various aspects of the object and (b) the person’s evaluation of each of the beliefs held by him as he relates it to the object.


From a marketer’s point of view, this definition is helpful, for it implies that consumer’s will perceive a product (or object) to be having many attributes and accordingly, may develop beliefs on each of the attributes. For example, a consumer may strongly believe that Vicks VapoRub provides fast and long lasting relief from the six symptoms of cold namely- blocked nose, cough, body ache, headache, muscle stiffness and breathing difficulty.

Since this consumer evaluated all of these attributes as favourable qualities, as per the definition, she has a strong favourable overall attitude towards the brand. However, if there was another consumer who may not believe Vicks VapoRub to possess all the above mentioned attributes, she may not evaluate all attributes as favourably as the first consumer. Accordingly, her overall attitude towards the brand would be less favourable.

Attitude – Definition

A layman may describe an attitude as the way people feel about something. Attitudes form an important foundation of individual behaviour in organization. Quite often people say things like “I don’t like her attitude” or “Our staff people have a poor attitude”. Therefore, systematic knowledge of attitudes greatly contributes to an understanding of the reactions of people. It helps in describing people and explaining their behaviour.

Attitude is an individual’s characteristic way of responding consistently in a favourable or unfavourable manner to objects, people, or events in his environment. It is based on the individual’s experience and his interpretation of it and leads to certain behaviours or opinions.


Attitude reflects how an individual feels about something. Attitude provides a predetermined set of responses, so that a person’s behaviour or opinions can often be forecast in specific circumstances. Attitudes reflect settled behaviour and settled mode of thinking as well as feeling.

Attitudes can be defined variously as readiness to act; mental posturers, guide for conduct, feelings, desires, fears, convictions, a state of readiness! a cumulative perception; a tendency to act for or against an object in the environment; frames of reference that influence behaviour; and so on.

Newcomb views attitude as “a set to action with an emotional overtone”, or as a condition of readiness to be motivated. He defines attitude as- “a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given object”.

This definition incorporates four important aspects of attitudes:


(i) Attitudes are learned through experience;

(ii) They predispose people to behave (respond) in certain ways;

(iii) Attitudes and behaviour conform to a principle of consistency; and

(iv) The unfavourable or favourable manner of behaving reflects the evaluative component of attitudes.


Thus, an attitude is formed from a confluence of a person’s beliefs and values. It is a positive or negative evaluation about something or somebody. Further, an attitude gives rise to an intention to behave in a certain way which in turn gives rise to the behaviour itself.

Attitude – Concept

Attitudes may be defined in two ways conceptual and operational. Even there is a quite difference in the conceptual definition of the term attitude. The term attitude first entered in the field of social phenomenon, it was natural to conceive of attitude as a tendency, set, or readiness to respond to some social objects.

Some authors define attitude as a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related. From this point of view, attitude implies a heightened responsiveness to certain stimuli. Many researchers have defined attitude in terms of effect and evaluation.

For example, Krech and Crutchfield define attitude as an enduring organization of motivational, emotional, perceptual, and cognitive processes with respect to some aspect of the individual’s world. Thus, attitudes are beliefs imbued with emotional and motivational properties and are expressed in a person’s favourability towards an object.

The evaluative nature of attitude is also emphasized by Katz and Scotland when they define attitude as a tendency or predisposition to evaluate an object or symbol of that object in a certain way. Evaluation consists of attributing goodness-badness or desirable-undesirable qualities to an object.

In addition to conceptual approach, there is operational approach in defining the term attitude. The concept of attitude is operationalized in a number of ways; but in most cases, studies rely on some kind of questionnaire to measure attitudes. Taking attitudes from this point of view, only evaluative aspect of attitudes has been taken into account.


For example, Fishbein has noted that most measures of attitudes tap an underlying dimension of favourability-unfavourability and, therefore, attitudes should be regarded as synonymous with evaluating meaning. Thus, in practice, the term attitude often is used in a generic sense to any reports of what people think or feel or the ways in which they intend to acts.

Attitude, Opinion and Belief:

An opinion is generally the expression of one’s judgement of a particular set of facts or an evaluation of the circumstances presented to him. Thurstone defines opinions as expressions of attitudes. However, Kolasa observes that an opinion is response to a specifically limited stimulus, but the response is certainly influenced by the predisposition with which the individual is operating that is the attitude structure. Undoubtedly, attitudes are basic to opinions as well as to many other aspects of behaviour.

Although attitudes tend to be generalized predisposition to react in some way towards objects or concepts, opinions tend to be focused on more specific aspects of the object or the concept. McCormick and Tiffin observe that the measurement of attitudes is generally based on the expressions of opinions.

But we should distinguish between attitude scale like a thermometer or barometer, which reflects the generalized level of individuals’ attitudes towards some object or concept, and opinion survey which typically are used to elicit the opinions of people toward specific aspects of, For example, their work situation.

A difference can also be made between attitude and belief. A belief is an enduring organization of perceptions and cognitions about some aspects of individual’s world. Thus, belief is a hypothesis concerning the nature of objects, more particularly, concerning one’s judgement of the probability regarding their nature.


In this sense, belief is the cognitive component of attitude, which, reflects the manner in which an object is perceived. Kolasa observes that beliefs are stronger than opinions; we hold them more firmly than we do the more changeable evaluations of minor or transitory events represented by opinions.

Attitude and Behaviour:

Individual’s behaviour is not a simple and direct stimulus-response relationship; rather it is affected by the individual concerned, as is explained by S-O-B model. The work situation is interpreted by individual, and attitudes play an important part in which the situation is interpreted. Only after individual’s interpretation and comparison does the response occur.

This means that response expected of a purely objective and rational consideration of the work situation and its characteristics may not be the actual response of the individual. His response depends completely on how he interprets the situation and on his own personal attitudes towards the situation.

Obviously, attitudes are an important consideration because of their central position in the process transforming work requirements into effort.

Attitude – Characteristics

Individuals hold different attitudes.


The following are generally referred to as characteristics of attitudes:

1. Attitudes can be held about any object, person, issue or activity – referred to as the attitude object. For instance, if as a researcher one is interested in knowing about consumer attitudes towards major brands of mobile phones (object) then the study will include Airtel, Hutch and Reliance.

2. Attitudes may be strongly or weakly held. An attitude is an assessment based on continuous evaluation.

3. Attitudes are learned- We acquire attitudes in much the same way we acquire culture, through classical and operant conditioning and social interaction. Attitudes having relevance to purchase behaviour may have been formed (or learned) through direct experience with the product, word-of-mouth, from ads (or other mass media advertising, from retail outlet leaflet, internet etc.) Such learned predispositions will lead to attitude formation and the subsequent purchase behaviour.

4. Attitudes are dynamic and can change. We no longer have the same attitudes as we did when we were younger. We are constantly modifying attitudes based on our ­experiences and acquiring new attitudes as we encounter new attitude objects. Sometimes, attitudes occur within and are affected by the situation also. By situation, we are referring to events or circumstances at a particular point of time which can influence the relationship between an attitude and behaviour.

5. Some attitudes are more fundamental than others and more resistant to change. Certain opinions stay with us throughout our lives, while others may change from week to week.


Marketers are more concerned with understanding attitudes (for instance, does a brand have a favourable or unfavourable image), modifying attitudes (to make consumers more favourable toward certain attitude object and or less favourable towards others), and turning positive attitudes towards an object or product into an action resulting in the purchase of the item in question.

Marketers are trying to understand and meet consumer demands by trying to match products with the situational requirement. For example, consumer preference may vary, in terms of eating situations, if one were to look at outlets such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Nirula’s, Coffee Cafe Day or The Indian Coffee House. So accordingly Coffee Cafe Day may be preferred by young, trendy executives working in the IT sector. While middle age, price conscious customers may prefer to eat at the Indian Coffee House.

Attitude – Nature

Attitudes, Opinion and Belief:

Attitudes are said to be resulting from a combination of beliefs and value and opinions. Terms such as opinion and belief are often used quite closely with attitudes. Attitudes tend to be generalised predispositions to react in some way towards objects or concepts, whereas, opinions tend to be focused on more specific aspects of the object or concept.

Earnest J. Me Cormick and Joseph Tiffin have opined “The measurement of attitudes is generally based on the expression of opinions. But we should distinguish between attitude scale which, like a thermometer or barometer, reflects the generalised level of individual attitudes towards some object or concept, and opinion surveys, which typically are used to elicit the opinions of people towards specific aspects.”

Belief can be defined as “an enduring organisation of perceptions and cognitions about some aspects of an individual’s world”. This means beliefs could be hypothesis and are based on one’s judgement regarding the probability of the nature of the objects. Simply stated beliefs are the body of knowledge we hold about the world (may be incomplete or inaccurate).


Beliefs are often expressed in sentences where the word ‘is’ appears. For example, the information that “Complain is good for you” has been presented as a fact (endorsed by the health and nutrition specialist in the ad clipping) in the cleverly designed advertising campaign. As a result, this view now forms a part of many peoples’ (especially mothers) belief system.

Value is very often viewed as an attribute possessed by an individual and considered to be desirable. According to psychologist Milton Rokeach, values are centrally held and enduring beliefs which guide actions and make judgments in specifics situations. They may induce one to respond (or adopt specific behaviour) which can help or come in the way of attainment of some values.

From the above definition we can see that values involve an individual’s judgement on what is right, good, desirable and worthwhile. Unlike beliefs, these are usually ideals to which we aspire and may be expressed in sentences which includes words like ‘should be’. For example, the Government’s pulse polio statement – “India must be eradicated and free from polio” is an expression of the value of the principle of social justice.

The differences between attitudes, opinions and beliefs and values exist only on a conceptual basis. The relationship between them is a complex one. It is usually said that people have thousands of beliefs and opinions about the world, hundreds of attitudes although probably fever than fifty values.

Interestingly, advertisers have used these values to sell products. Typically, a product is associated with a particular value dimension to give it an appeal.

For Instance:

1. Brand – Value

2. Dove – The moisturizing effect

3. Tide washing powder – The stain-busting power

4. Shoppers Stop – A complete fashion and lifestyle store

5. Vicks VapoRub – Gentle, Quick Relief medication from cold

6. Bank of India – Relationships beyond banking

So firms try to sell their products by using the dimension of truth. At times they support this with the presentation of facts and figures or graphs or professionals in related areas endorsing the brand.

For instance, Star chef Sanjeev Kapoor endorses that it is possible to make tasty sweet (Gajjar Ka Halva) by using Sugar Free or when he opines that it is possible to make healthy and tasty (with less fat and cholesterol content) snacks by using Saffola Gold cooking oil. Similarly, Jawed Habib, Hair stylist & Grooming expert, states the goodness of using Sun Silk Shampoo (helps the hair to remain conditioned, smooth and silky).

Fred Luthans rightly observes that attitudes are a complex cognitive process, but can be characterized in three ways. First, they tend to persist unless something is done to change them. Second, attitudes can fall any­where along a continuum from very favourable to very unfavourable. Third, attitudes are directed toward some object about which a person has feelings and beliefs.

1. Attitudes vs Beliefs:

Kretch and Crutchfield define belief as an enduring organization of perceptions and cognitions about some aspect of the individual’s world. As they observe, while all attitudes incorporate beliefs, all beliefs do not form a part of attitudes.

Although beliefs are motivationally relatively neutral they are subject to special dynamic pressures when embedded in attitudes. Beliefs thus represent an enduring organization of motivational, emotional, perceptual and cognitive processes with respect to some aspect of the individual’s world.

2. Attitudes vs Values:

Rokeach defines values as basic conventions that a specific mode of conduct or end state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end state of existence.

Values contain a judgmental element with moral flavour and thus they carry an individual’s ideas as to what is right, good or desirable. Attitudes are specific whereas values form a broader and more encompassing concept. For instance, the statement that “discrimination against women for executive jobs is bad” indicates one’s values.

On the contrary, “I am in favour of developing women for executive jobs in this organization” is an attitude. None the less, despite this difference, attitudes and values are found to be closely related. Values refer to the worth or excellence ascribed to an object. Values, thus, relate to standards or yardsticks to guide actions, attitudes, evaluations and justifications of self and others.

Attitude – 3 Structural Components

Attitudes have three structural components:

1. Cognitive component represents the opinion or belief segment of an attitude. It consists of the real or assumed knowledge, beliefs and information the individual has about the attitude object. Cognitive element concerns the rational processes an individual uses before taking a particular course of actions.

2. Affective component represents the emotional or feeling segment of an attitude. It consists of the “feelings” or emotional response of the individual to the object; either positive, negative or neutral. Affective component controls how much the person likes or dislikes the attitude object. Emotional element refers to the non-rational commitments an individual makes to pursue a particular course of action – his feelings.

3. Behavioural component represents an intention to behave in a certain way toward someone or something. It consists of the individual’s tendencies or predisposition to act (behave) in a particular way towards the object. Behavioural component controls how the individual acts on the basis of his cognitive and affective set.

Out of these three components of attitudes, only the behavioural component can be directly observed. The other two – affective and cognitive- components can only be inferred. It is important to remember that the term attitude essentially refers to the emotional element of the three components.

Attitude – 3 Main Types of Job Related Attitudes: Job Satisfaction, Job Involvement and Organizational Commitment

In organizations, attitudes are important because they affect job behaviour. Robbins classifies job-related attitudes into three types- Job Satisfaction, Job Involvement, and Organizational Commitment.

(i) Job Satisfaction – Job satisfaction refers to an individual’s general attitude towards his job. Job satisfaction or job dissatisfaction is the result of various attitudes the person holds towards his job related factors, and towards life in general. Blum defines job satisfaction as a general attitude which a worker has as a consequence of several specific attitudes in the following three areas- specific job factors, individual adjustment, and group relationships outside the job.

An individual who has high level of job satisfaction holds positive attitudes towards the job. Similarly, if he is dissatisfied with his job he will hold negative attitudes towards it. Several times, the term “employee attitudes” is used interchangeably with the term “Job satisfaction”.

(ii) Job Involvement- Job involvement refers to the extent to which an individual identifies with his job, actively participates in it, and considers his performance important to self-worth. An individual with a high level of job involvement is likely to be highly satisfied, more productive and less prone to leave the work than the one with a low level of job involvement.

(iii) Organizational Commitment- Organizational commitment refers to an individual’s orientation towards the organization in terms of loyalty, identification, and involvement. With high organization commitment, an individual identifies with a particular organization and its goals, and wishes to maintain membership in the organization. Highly committed individual is more likely to be a better performer and is less prone to resign than the one with a low level of organizational commitment.

Attitude – Top 4 Functions

In the study of organizational behaviour it is important to understand the functions of attitudes. Basically, attitudes help to predict work behaviour. Secondly, attitudes often help employees to adapt to their work environments.

Katz describes the four different functions that attitudes play in this process:

(i) Adaptive Function:

Expression of certain attitudes in particular social contexts has a utility (instrumentality) in obtaining rewards or avoiding punishments. Thus, attitudes help people to adjust to their environment.

(ii) Ego-Defensive Function:

Attitudes help people to protect their self- image. Individuals make use of various ego-defence mechanisms so that their attitude serves to justify their action and to defend the ego and the self-image.

(iii) Value-Expressive Function:

Attitudes provide people with a basis for expressing their values. Attitudes explain to others the ‘type’ or the ‘sort’ of person an individual believes himself to be, for instance, honest, tolerant, objective, neutral etc. Thus, the value-expressive function gives clarity to the self-image and at the same time brings that self-image closer to the heart’s desire.

(iv) Knowledge Function:

Attitudes form a frame of reference and supply standards to people so that they can organize and explain the world around them and thus can give sense and meaning to it. The knowledge function enables people to assess new information and to make judgements in new settings.

Attitude – Strategies to Change Attitudes

Marketers try to bring about a change in consumer attitudes generally when they want to reposition an existing brand or enter a new market with an existing brand. Through such strategies, marketers want to communicate about the set of attributes and benefits associated with the brand and influence consumers’ purchase behaviour.

Strategy # I. Tackling Change in Attitudes of Existing User:

Marketers have realized that there is a change in consumer attitudes and interest towards the premium market segment. Earlier most of the consumers who were exposed to the truly high end niche products used to be frequent travelers abroad. And very often they would purchase such products on foreign trips or through direct selling networks.

But today, changes in consumer attitudes are acting as catalysts for the premium market revival. There are the mass market consumers who are still extremely value conscious about the everyday items but will display a willingness to spend a lot more on new products and categories.

Ashok Venkataramani, V.P. Skin and Care, HLL comments “With the boom in the BPO industry coupled with the explosion in the mall culture, there is a surge in the first jobbers’ young adults between 20 and 30 years who are willing to spend. The two areas where there has been immense growth is skin, especially in the facial cleaning and the sun protection segment, both of which are growing, consumers are willing to pay an amount, depending on whether they see an actual value there”.

Accordingly, Hindustan Lever Limited has shifted focus to the top end for its Lux brand, upgraded Lifebouy and Dove soaps and has reasonably been successful in positioning its Lakme brand as a premium product.

L’Oreal, a market leader in most of the countries it is present in, had entered the Indian market more than ten years ago with a range of skin care products with the focus on the super-premium category. Now in order to meet the rising aspirations of various segments, has come out with product offerings which can be said to be occupying the whole price range between the super-premium and the affordable.

It’s very popular (key) brand is Gamier (separately for men and women), which is priced slightly lower than the L’Oreal, professional range. All the above brands are doing well. In fact L’Oreal positioned its premium products in a sharp, convenient and aspirational way different from its other popular offerings.

Strategy # II. Changing Attitudes of Non-Users:

In an attempt to attract non users or consumers, marketers are using various methods to bring about a change in their attitudes. For example during the first three-four years Diamond Trading Company (DTC) had only focused on research in order to know what consumers’ different need states were and how they see jewellery as.

Then through mass media advertising of their product’s salient features, they were able to arouse consumers interest, culminating into positive purchase behaviour. DTC also builds relationships by constantly interacting with its sight holders (world wide) providing value added services like market research, and conducting branding and fashion seminars.

For many years Gold had been the popular jewellery, with not much awareness about platinum jewellery even though it has been available in India since 2001 onwards. So Platinum Guild International (PGI) decided to educate the consumers by initiating tailored contact programmes, allowing them to interact with jewellery designers, learn the value of platinum jewellery and experience it first-hand.

Thus thematic ads helped in building image and aspiration and reaching out to prospective consumers. PGI also runs annual training sessions for jewellers and its sales people and has also instituted the Platinum Excellence Awards aimed at acknowledging the efforts of its best sales staff.

All such efforts by marketers will not only help to convert nonusers to users but also gain mind share by making its presence known in an already cluttered market.

Attitude – Factors Affecting Attitude Formation: Group Factors and Personality Factors

The attitudes are learned. Though there are different approaches as how learning works and is acquired by individuals, generally it is held that individuals learn things from the environment in which they interact. Thus, for attitude formation, all those factors must be taken into account from which people learn.

Such factors may be analyzed in term of group, then to larger starting from the family as a group, an individual moves in a close group, then to larger groups, and finally to the society as a whole.

Apart from these groups the individual’s psychological make-up, particularly his personality, is also responsible for shaping his behaviour and attitudes; thus in order to understand the various factors and how they affect the attitudes, both these category of factors should be analyzed.

1. Group Factors:

The influence of groups on the attitudes of individuals is inversely proportional to the distance of the group from the individual, from this point of view, three types of groups have different types of effect on the attitudes of a person:

i. Family:

The term family may be used in a variety of ways – it may include a nuclear family which means the immediate group of father, mother, and children; an extended family which includes nuclear family and other relatives. Both these types of family have influence on the attitudes of individuals. In fact, when a person starts learning anything about the world, he learns it through his mother which is known as the process of socialization.

In this socialization process, he learns and forms attitudes also. Gradually, when the child grows up he comes in contact with others in the family but does not make significant contact with persons outside his family. Family has two important roles. First, other family members have certain personality characteristics, evaluative criteria, and attitudes, and the family as a whole has certain attitudes and values, which are shared by all other persons. Second, family mediates the influence of larger social systems on the individual’s attitudes, values, and personality characteristics.

As an individual interacts with other family members, he simultaneously both influences the personality characteristics and attitudes of others and in turn is influenced by others. Since a family is a primary group, the attitudes of family members tend to converge and are typically more homogeneous than would be the case if they were not in the family.

ii. Reference Groups:

The awareness and learning of behaviour alternatives is accomplished efficiently through the influence of reference groups. A reference group is any interacting aggregation of people that influences an individual’s attitudes of behaviour. This group may include family or other types of groupings, either primary or secondary groups.

Reference groups serve important inputs to an individual’s learning of his attitudes and awareness of alternative behaviours and lifestyle. This happens through the process of socialization. Socialization, is a process by which a new member learns the value system, the norms, and the required behaviour patterns of the society, organizations, or groups in which he is entering.

Though all groups with which an individual makes contact have influence on his attitudes, the values and norms of the primary groups play a very important role in influencing attitudes, opinions, and beliefs of the members of the group.

iii. Social Factors:

The social classes have important influence on individual’s attitudes. They have the important task of transmitting cultural behaviour patterns to specific groups and families. They define the expectations of society for groups of people and for families within the groups. The family then transits these cultural expectations to the individual.

Thus, social classes restrict behaviour between individuals of differing social classes, especially in intimate relationships. People have their close relationships with people of similar classes, which tend to restrict attitude formation in similar patterns of other members. This is so because attitudes and values provide goals, which aid alternative evaluation and provide motivation for research and evaluation. These are transmitted differently among social classes.

2. Personality Factors:

Personality factors are important in attitude formation. However, many personality characteristics themselves are determined by group and social factors.

Personality differences between individuals are very important Concomitant of the discussion of attitudes. This area has been the subject of great interest of research and study, particularly with respect to broader area of prejudice and social functioning.

Various studies show that there is positive relationship between different personality factors and attitudes. Adrono et al. show that there was a coherent pattern of ethnocentric attitudes including anti-semitism among persons having authoritarian personality. The ethnocentric stuck to the straight and narrow, holding conventional values, not being able to accept certain socially unacceptable impulses and, therefore, in the main, projecting these on others.

McClosky has found a relationship between personality correlates of conservatism and liberalism. He found that the conservative attitudes characterized these at the lower end of the intelligence scale with less education and with less awareness of current events.

Various other research studies also show positive relationship between personality variables and particular attitudes. Since personality itself is influenced by various group and in understanding attitude formation, these factors, particularly former ones, must be analyzed.

Attitude – Scales Used for Measuring Attitudes

Differences in employee’s attitudes can be gathered by interpreting chance remarks of individuals and observing the behaviour of individuals in the work groups and so on. A sensitive supervisor or manager can always get a pulse feeling with respect to the overall reactions of his work-group even though he may not spot such reactions specifically.

Another way to find out attitudes is through the analysis of certain factors such as absenteeism, tardiness and turnover rate and production level.

Various methods of measuring attitudes are available for use and they include questionnaires, attitude scale, opinion survey, guided interview, unguided interview, and some indirect methods like background information such as biographies, case – histories, letters, etc. These methods are interdependent as information about life-history can be gathered to some extent through interviews, questionnaires, etc.

In a guided interview, the interviewer asks a series of questions such that each of which may be answered by a simple yes’ or no’ or by some other words or phrases. In the unguided interview, the interviewer asks more general questions to encourage the employee to express himself. Attitude scales can be useful in indicating relative level of morale of employees, they do not enable management to identify specific factors that may be sources of employee unrest or dissatisfaction. This information can be obtained by the opinion surveys.

The most common and widely used measures of attitudes are the questionnaires which ask the respondents to evaluate and rate the attitude toward a particular object directly, and to respond favourably or unfavorably about his belief regarding the attitude object. Generally, bipolar scales are used to assess the individual’s attitudes in an organization.

Various scales used, for this purpose include the following:

1. Thurstone’s scale,

2. Likert’s scale,

3. Bogardus’s social distance scale,

4. Guttman’s scale.

1. Thurstone Scale:

About five decades ago Thurstone collected a large number of statements, as many as hundred or more, relating to the area in which attitudes were to’ be measured. The statements, both favourable and unfavourable, are placed into eleven piles – 1 representing the most favourable one and 11 representing the unfavourable. Individuals will then be asked to check those statements with which they agreed. The average of the scale values of the items which they accepted will give an indication of the placement of a person along the attitude continuum.

For instance, if the average happens to be low, this would indicate high degree of favorableness in attitudes in this particular area of field and if the average happens to be high, this indicates low degree of favorableness in attitudes in the area. The use of different statements in scales measuring the same attitude helps in checking results by a repeat test in order to be sure of conclusion reached.

2. Likert’s Scale:

Likert’s scale is simpler than Thurston’s scale. Rensis Likert developed the ‘Likert’s scale’ which is consisting of five boxes ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Under each statement of attitude the respondent has to check one of five alternatives- strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, strongly disagree.

Finally all the ratings will be summed up. Hence, this scale is also called as summated – rating measure. Several statements are collected in an attitude area, such as one’s attitude about a job, and the scales are summed up to obtain an individual’s attitude towards his job. Likert’s scale provides a means of measuring the intensity of one’s attitude towards a particular object/event in addition to the direction.

In terms of Validity as well as Reliability, Likert’s scale is considered to be better than Thurstone’s scale.

3. Bogardus’s Social Distance Scale:

Perhaps the most simple scale of measuring attitudes was the social distance scale developed by Bogardus in 1925. The scale is composed of a large number of statements regarding national, racial or ethnic groups. Bogardus used a seven point scale ranging from most favourable acceptance picture, that of acceptance to close kinships by marriage, to termination or exclusion from the country, as the other extreme end of scale.

4. Guttman’s Scale:

Guttman in 1950 has developed a cumulative scaling technique to measure attitudes. For measuring one’s attitude to work, an individual might be asked to respond to six statements displaying successively higher degrees of dissatisfaction. It is assumed that the individual will reach some point beyond which he can no longer agree. The main threshold is considered to be the degree of satisfaction.

Another attempt is by Edward and Kilpatrick in 1948. They developed a technique called “scale discrimination” by synthesizing and integrating the Likert’s, Guttman’s and Thurstone’s approaches. Here are six response categories ranging from strongly agree, agree, mildly agree, mildly disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree.

For HR managers, it is important to remember that before making use of any instrument to measure attitudes, the validity as well as reliability of hat instrument must be well established.

Attitude – Top 3 Theories: Cognitive Consistency Theories, Functional Theory and Social Judgement Theory

There are so many theories that have been projected to explain the attitude formation and change. Although, these theories have many limitations, they provide useful thinking about the processes underlying attitude formation. These theories are organized into major groupings according to the nature of the psychological processes postulated to underlying formation and change of attitudes.

These theories may broadly be classified into three categories – cognitive-consistency theories, functional theories and social judgement theories. However, there is frequent discontinuity between various groupings because related approaches have focused on different sets of phenomena. Nevertheless, such classification is valid from practical point of view.

1. Cognitive Consistency Theories:

Attitudes do not exist in isolation; indeed, a complex structure results which, appears to have at its heart a consistent tendency to maintain balance and resist change from influences of various types. In general, these theories are concerned with inconsistencies that arise between related beliefs, bits of knowledge, and/or evaluations about an object or an issue.

Through various consistency theories differ in several respects, including the form of inconsistency about which they are concerned, all of them have in common the idea that the psychological tension created by this unpleasant state leads to attempt for reducing the inconsistency.

There are four important theories under this group:

i. Balance Theory:

The basic model of balance theory has been provided by Heider. The theory is concerned with consistency in the judgement of people and/or issues that are linked by some form of relationship. There are three elements in the attitude formation; the person, other person, and impersonal entity. Two generic types of relationships are considered to exist between the elements; linking or sentiment relations and unit relations.

The linking relations encompass all forms of sentiment or effect, while unit relationships express the fact that two elements are perceived as belonging together. Both linking and unit relations can be positive and negative. In a three element system, balance exists if all three relations are positive or if two relations are negative and one is positive.

Imbalance exists if all three relations are negative or if two relations are positive and one is negative. People tend to perceive other and objects linked to them so that the system is balanced. Thus, if a perceiver likes a source who favours a certain position on an issue, the balancing process induces the perceiver to favour that position too.

The balanced states are stable and imbalanced states are unstable. When imbalanced states occur, the psychological tension created motivates the person to restore balance cognitively by changing the relations. Thus, a person’s attitudes towards an object depend on his attitudes towards a source that is linked with the object.

The basic model of Heider has been criticized on some grounds. For example, the theory does not consider the degree of linking or unit relationship nor the relevance to the perceiver of the elements and relations. Consequently, there are no degrees of balance or imbalance, and it is not possible to make quantitative predictions about the degree of attitude change.

In the extension of balance model, Abelson has suggested four methods in which a person can resolve imbalance in cognitive structures – denial, bolstering, differentiation, and transcendence. Denial involves denying a relationship when imbalance occurs. Bolstering involves adding element in the structure that is adding another issue in the main issue.

Differentiation involves splitting one of the elements into two elements that are related in opposite ways to other elements in the system and negatively related to each other. Transcendence involves combining elements into larger, more superordinate units from a balanced structure. These processes occur in hierarchy so that a person’s attempts to resolve imbalance in the ordering are discussed.

The ordering is based on the assumption that the person will attempt the least effortful resolution first. This theory helps in understanding the role of persuasive communication and interpersonal attractiveness in changing the attitudes.

ii. Congruity Theory:

Osgood and Tannenbaum have proposed the congruity theory of attitudes which is similar to the balance theory. The focus of the theory is on changes in the evaluation of a source and a concept, which are linked by an associate or dissociate assertion. Congruity exists when a source and concept that are positively associated have exactly the same evaluations and when a source and concept those are negatively associated have exactly the opposite evaluations attached to them.

Congruity is a stable state and incongruity is unstable one. As such, incongruity leads to attitude change, and the theory states how much attitudes towards the source and towards the concept change in order to resolve the incongruity.

iii. Affective Cognitive Consistency Theory:

This theory, propounded by Rosenberg, is concerned with the consistency between a person’s overall attitude and effect towards an object or issue and his beliefs about its relationship to his more general values. Rosenberg has related attitudes to one aspect of cognitive structure-means-end relationship between the object or issue and the achievement of desired and undesired values or goals.

The theory is also called structural because it is concerned mainly with what happens within the individual when an attitude changes. It proposes that the relationship between the affective and the cognitive components of the attitude change when an attitude is altered.

The theory postulates that a person’s effect towards or evaluation of the attitude object tends to be consistent with this cognitive structural component. When there is inconsistency beyond a certain level of tolerance, the individual is motivated to reduce the inconsistency and thereby to change one or both components to make them more consistent.

The theory, thus, suggests that changes in the affective component produce changes in the cognitive component in order to bring about consistency between the two. The theory also suggests that persuasive communication can be used to change the attitudes. The persuasive communication conveys information about how the attitude object or issue furthers the attainment of certain desirable ends or conveys persuasive material that results in a re-evaluation of the goals themselves.

iv. Cognitive Dissonance Theory:

The cognitive dissonance theory, proposed by Festinger, has had by far the greatest impact on the study of attitudes. At first sight, this theory may appear similar to the affective cognitive theory. The difference between the two is that this theory (dissonance) tends to tie in the third component of the attitudes (behavioural tendency) with cognitions about the attitude object.

Rather than dealing with only one belief, this theory deals with relationship a person’s ideas have with one other, it states that there are three types of relationships between all cognitions – dissonance, consonance, and irrelevance. Cognitions are dissonant whenever they are incompatible; or if they are opposed to one’s experience about the relationship of events. Cognitions are consonant when one follows from the other on the basis of logic or experience.

Cognitions are totally irrelevant when two events are not interrelated. The presence of dissonance gives rise to pressures to reduce or eliminate the dissonance and avoid the further increase of dissonance. Dissonance varies in magnitude. The total amount of dissonance is a function of the proportion of relevant elements that are dissonant with one another relative to the total number of consonant and dissonant elements, each weighted by the importance of the elements for the person.

Higher the degree of dissonance, higher would be the attempt to reduce it. Dissonance is reduced through three methods – changing a behavioural cognitive element, changing an environmental element, and adding a new cognitive element. The basic model of Festinger applies to several situations affecting behaviour of persons. In each behaviour, the person experiences dissonance when he engages in behaviour contrary to his attitudes.

Since magnitude of dissonance is a function of the relative number and important elements, the amount of justification a person has for engaging in the attitude-discrepant behaviour is an important determinant of the amount of dissonance he experiences. Justification adds consonant element to the otherwise dissonant situation.

For example, when a person has to choose among a number of alternatives, he experiences conflict before the decision. After the decision, he experiences dissonance because the positive features of rejected alternatives and negative features of selected alternative dissonant with the choice. To overcome this dissonance, the justification process starts. Dissonance reducing changes have the net effect of increasing the valuation of the chosen alternative and decreasing the valuation of rejected alternatives.

2. Functional Theory:

Functional theory considers how attitudes and efforts are related to the motivational structure of the individual. The theory focuses on the meaning of the influence situation in terms of both the kinds of motives that is arouses and the individual’s method of coping and achieving his goals.

An understanding of the functions served by attitudes is important for attitude change procedure since a particular method may produce change in individuals whose attitudes serve one particular function, but may produce no change in an opposite direction in individuals for whom the attitudes serve a different function.

The most prominent person who visualized functional theory is Katz and he suggests four functions of attitudes – utilitarian or instrumental function, ego-defensive, value orientation, and knowledge. It can be seen that there is some similarity in parts of this theory to cognitive dissonance theory.

What Katz points out is that when an attitude serves an adjustive function one of the two conditions must prevail before it can be changed-

(i) The attitude and the activities related to it no longer provide the satisfaction they once did; or

(ii) The individual’s level of aspiration has been raised shifts in the satisfaction which come from behaviours bring with them changes in the attitudes.

When new behaviours inconsistent with attitudes bring satisfaction these attitudes then must be adjusted. However, Katz functional theory has not stimulated much research except for the work on changing ego-defensive attitudes.

Kelman has given another approach about the functional approach of attitudes. His theory is directed towards the types of social relationships that occur in social influence situations. Kelman has distinguished three processes of attitude formation and change compliance, identification, and internalization.

These processes derive functional meaning primarily from their emphasis on the motivational significance of the individual’s relationship to the influencing agent, or from the differing types of social integration that they represent. Compliance occurs when an attitude is formed or changed in order to gain a favourable reaction from other person or group. Identification occurs when a person forms or changes his attitude because his adoption helps him establish or maintain a positive self-defining relationship with the influencing agent.

Internalization involves adopting an attitude because it is congruent with one’s overall value system. The individual perceives the content of the induced attitude as enhancing his own values. This approach makes an important contribution towards an understanding of the conditions that influence the maintenance and stability of attitude change.

3. Social Judgement Theory:

The social judgement theory, formulated originally by Sherif and Hoveland, attempts to explain how existing attitudes produce distortions of attitudinally related objects and how these judgements mediate attitude change. Accordingly, a person’s own stand on an issue, that is, initial attitude, serves as an anchor for the judgement of attitudinally related stimuli.

The person’s initial attitude on an issue provides a point of reference against which he evaluates other opinions. These views can be considered in terms of attitudinal continuum and can be considered comprising latitudes. The latitude of acceptance, which is the range of opinions the individual finds acceptable, encompasses the opinion that best characterizes his own stand.

The attitude of rejection, which is the range of opinions the individual finds objectionable, encompasses the opinion he finds most objectionable. The attitude of non-commitment is the range of opinions that the person finds neither acceptable nor unacceptable.

Attitude – Models used for Understanding the Relationship between Attitudes and Behaviour (With Formulas)

In order to understand the relationship between attitudes and behaviour, psychologists have suggested the use of various models that will help in understanding the underlying dimensions of an attitude.

Given below are few important attitude models:

(1) Tricomponent Attitude Model:

I. The Cognition Component:

The first component of the tricomponent attitude model will be an individual’s cognitions. This means that the knowledge and perception that are acquired either due to direct exposure to the attitude object and or from the information received from various sources will lead to cognition.

This may give rise to consumer beliefs, that is the consumer believes that the attitude object possesses certain attributes and that specific behaviour will lead to specific outcomes, especially in case of consumer aspirants.

II. The Affective Component:

The affective component of an attitude refers to a consumer’s feelings or emotions towards a particular brand or product. Consumer researchers consider such feelings or emotions as evaluative statements. That is, the extent to which an individual will rate the attitude object as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and ‘favourable’ or ‘unfavourable’.

Researchers have also stated that the consumers’ emotional state of mind is also likely to affect the shopping experience. That is, the emotional state of the individual at the time of shopping, will result in him or her experiencing a positive or negative feeling at the outlet. Further, subsequent recollection of this experience will be seen in the way they act. If a person has been joyous at the positive response he received from a particular retail out, he will persuade his friends and relatives to visit the shop and will even plan a revisit himself.

III. The Conative Component:

Conation, the final component of the tricomponent attitude model is used to understand the likelihood of the consumer undertaking a specific action or behaving in a particular manner with regard to the attitude object.

When consumer researches are undertaken, usually buyer intention scales are used to ascertain the likelihood of a consumer purchasing or behaving in a particular manner.

Thus from the tricomponent model we can see that it consists of three major components a cognitive component, an affective component and a conative component. And an understanding of how these components are interrelated, will help determine the behavioural attitude of an individual consumer.

(2) Multi Component Model of Attitude:

This model can help to predict attitudes from an evaluation of their component parts. This model was developed by Martin Fishbein. According to Fishbein, an attitude towards an object is dependent upon-

1. Strength of the belief that object has certain attributes.

2. The desirability of these attributes.

3. The number of attributes.

(Attributes are those elements of an object which define it). For instance, few of the attributes of a vacuum cleaner may be-

1. Compact

2. Easy to handle

3. Has main cable storage

4. Can remove all dust from even odd, unreachable (by hand) places

5. Can clean up liquids and so on.

Fishbein Model:

According to this model if a consumer believes strongly that an object has many positive, desirable attributes, then it will be rated favourably. This model can be explained with the help of a formula-


n = Number of attributes

bi = Strength of the belief that object contains ‘i’ attributes.

ei = Evaluation of the desirability of attribute ‘i’

Thus attitude towards an object can be described as the sum of the multiplication of the beliefs and evaluation for all attributes.

Usually ‘b’ is rated on a scale of 1 to 3, that is from (1) strong belief of presence of attribute to (3) uncertainty of the presence. And evaluation of desirability of the attitude on a 1- 7 point of scale, that is from (1) highly desirable to (7) undesirable.

For instance, suppose we are asked to assess attitude towards a particular brand of ‘camera’.

There may have among others, the following attributes:

1. Quality of picture

2. Digital, Auto focus, easy to handle

3. Reasonably priced

Based on the above attributes, the marketer can ask a sample of potential purchasers on their opinion of these attributes. If they strongly believed that the quality of pictures was good, they may give it a rating of 1 (strong belief of presence of attribute). If they find the quality of the picture as moderate, they might rate the desirability of it as ‘4’. We shall consider a hypothetical data build up for each attribute obtained from a single individual.

The attitude score for the particular brand of camera is 19. The higher the figure, the less favourable the attitude towards the product or object. The worst possible score can be calculated by multiplying the number of attributes by 21 i.e., 3 × 21= 63.

This method will help marketers to make brand comparisons.

Extended Fishbein Model:

Attitudes do not necessarily lead to corresponding behaviour. So in an attempt to improve the accuracy of Fishbein’s original model, Williams in 1981, modified the model so that the ratings would refer to the behavioural outcomes of taking a particular action, unlike the above model where the ratings were given with reference to the object. Statistically, the formula will be the same as above, though the meaning will be different.


n = number of outcomes;

bi = strength of the belief that action will lead to a particular outcome;

ei = evaluation or desirability of outcome.

So, if a consumer believes that purchasing a product will lead to a large number of desirable outcomes, then she or he is more likely to purchase it.

For instance, an individual may buy ‘A’ brand of a motor bike not only because of its speed but because of the outcomes of the speed. That it, due to the speed, he will be able to reach the ultimate destinations faster, easy to overcome other vehicles on the highway, to impress friends and so on.

According to the extended model, we can predict the behaviour of the consumer accurately only if we rate these outcomes, rather than rating the attributes of the vehicle. Thus if marketers are interested in knowing the link between behaviour and attitudes, this model is likely to give more reliable results.

Attitude towards the – Ad Models:

In order to understand the impact of advertising or some other promotional method on consumer attitudes towards particular products or brands, the attitude towards the ad models have been developed.

Consumers develop various feelings (affect) and judgements (cognitions) after being exposed to the ad. These feelings and judgements in turn will influence the consumers’ attitude towards the ad and also develop certain beliefs about the brand and this will affect his or her attitude towards the brand.

While trying to assess consumer attitudes towards the ad, consumer researchers have suggested the importance of measuring cognitive evaluations of the ad judgements as to whether the ad is humorous, informative etc., and the affective responses from the exposure to the ad.

Various researchers have also tried to examine the various underlying elements of attitudes towards the Ad model. Few of these have been reproduced here. One group of researchers (Mackenzie, Lutz and Belch) had felt that in high involvement situations, more of the “central” factors like the information content of the ad etc. will influence the consumers.

Whereas in case of low involvement situations, it will be more “peripheral” factors like the use of celebrities etc. which will affect the consumers response behaviour. Other researchers (Lord Lee and Saver) had felt that there were research studies which had indicated that both central peripheral factors play a significant role in the formation of the attitude towards the ad, across different levels of consumer involvement.

The above researcher’s views indicate that marketers have to take care of the message contents to ensure that favourable perceptions and attitudes is created both in high involvement and low involvement situations.

Another researcher had drawn the attention to consider the nature of the attitude object in assessing the potential impact of advertising exposure. Still another view suggests the importance of assessing a wide variety of both positive and negative feelings when one is studying the influence of ad exposure.

Thus all the above researchers have made an effort to examine the influence of advertisements on the consumer attitude towards the product or brand.

Attitude – Factors Affecting Attitude Change

There is often a paradox of attitudes in that people need them to provide stability to social world yet world is a changing one and people must change their attitudes appropriate to the situation. The attitude change appropriate to organizational requirement is more important because attitudes affect behaviour and only certain behaviour is desirable from organization point of view.

Organizations adopt a number of techniques for changing attitudes of their members so that their behaviour corresponds with the organizational requirement. However, whatever the techniques for attitudes change are adopted, they can be effective only if basic characteristics of attitudes and their nature are kept inconsideration.

Though various theories of attitude formation and change which help in understanding attitudes and the techniques through which they can be changed, the change techniques can be more effective, if three basic factors (as discussed below) are considered adequately-

1. Characteristics of Attitudes:

In understanding attitude change, the analysis of attitude characteristics is an important element. Theories attitudes suggest numerous types of their characteristics. Such characteristics may be –

(i) Extremeness of the attitude,

(ii) Multiplicity,

(iii) Consistency,

(iv) Interconnectedness,

(v) Consonance of the attitude cluster of which the focal attitude is a part,

(vi) The number and strength of the needs which are served by the attitude, and

(vii) Centrality of related values.

2. Personality of Attitude Holder:

The personality factors of attitude holder are also important in attitude change in the sense that some persons are more pursuable as compared to others. This is so because of personality differences. Such differences change the natural of attitudes because attitudes are subjective qualities. Persuability is the tendency of a person to accept a persuasive communication. It commonly refers to a response to a direct influence attempt.

3. Group Affiliation:

Individuals often express their attitudes in terms of group. This is more so in the case of less extreme attitudes. This is so because membership in the group prevents existing attitudes from being disturbed by filtering the information. As will be discussed later, one of the powerful bonds which, hold the group together is the fact that members think alike. Information likely to cause dissonance or inconsistency is either omitted or perceived according to group norms with some modification or is rejected or considered irrelevant.

Though people are not always exposed to information in the concept or groups and information, which may change their attitudes impinges upon them from many sources, even outside the group, their membership still influences the way the new information is perceived. This is particularly true of primary groups, such as family, friendship group, etc.

Various methods have been adopted for attitude change. Cohen has classified them into four categories – Communication of additional information approval and disapproval of a particular attitude, group influence, and inducing engagement in discrepant behaviour.

However, in some way or the other, all these methods involve introducing discrepancies among the elements making up the individual’s attitude in the hope that elements win be rebalanced through changing the affective component of the attitude. Thus, in practice, the central variable in attitude change is the feeling comment associated with the attitude object.

Thus, from organization’s point of view, a manager may take the following actions in bringing out change the attitudes of organizational members. Such a course of action may be in the form of group action, persuasion through leadership, persuasion through communication, and the influence of total situation.

Several personality factors suggest different types of persuability. First is level of self- esteem of the person. The more inadequate a person feels and the more social inhibitions he has, the more likely is he to be persuable. People with a great deal of confidence in their own intellectual ability are not only more resistant to change but more willing to expose themselves to discrepant information.

Related to the personality factors, there is a style of thinking referred to as close minded or dogmatism. Dogmatism is a farm of authoritarianism where there is admiration of those in authority and hatred for those opposed to authority.

Taking these characteristics of attitudes, there may be two types of attitude change – congruent and incongruent. The congruent change involves an increase in the strength of an existing attitude, either to make a positive attitude even more favourable or to make a negative attitude more strongly negative.

An incongruent change is one in which the direction of change is opposite to the originally held attitude. Congruent change is easier to produce than incongruent one-especially when the attitude held is extreme, central in the attitude system, and interconnected with supporting attitudes. Another characteristic involved in changeability of attitudes is their simplicity.

The number of acts involved in the cognition and the number of facts to which it is related makes the attitude simple or complex. It is more likely to produce change in simple attitude than the complex one. The degree of interconnectedness determines the changeability of attitudes.

There is a strong belief in the cause and a decreasing tendency to admit that other causes might be valid, Dogmatism is a relatively closed system in which the beliefs and disbeliefs are isolated from one another. It tends to be organized around some central authority theme, which must be protected at all costs.

In dogmatism, there is high degree of rejection of opposing beliefs, a relatively low level of interconnection among belief systems, and complex cognitions about positively valued objects as against cognitions about negatively valued objects. In such cases attitude change is often resisted.

However, personality factors should not be overemphasized in attitude change because the change makes much more sense in the context of total change attempt situation.

Usually, attitudes which are strongly supported by other attitudes are more resistant to change. Similarly, depending on how many social wants support them and the strength of these wants, the attitudes may be more or less changeable. Attitudes which reflect the core or principal component of an individual’s personality would most likely be very resistant to change.

Attitude – Attitude Changing Process: Elaboration Likelihood Model, Low Effort Processing and High Effort Processing

The attitude-changing process are namely elaboration Likelihood model, Low Effort processing and High Effort processing.

1. Elaboration Likelihood Model:

Elaboration likelihood model (ELM) is a theory about the process of atti­tude change. It suggests that the process of attitude change is based on the motiva­tion and ability to assess the central merits of an issue or a proposition. Elaboration is a continuum comprising low to high motivation and the ability to think.

When the elaboration (motivation and ability) is high, people will assess the information related to the attitude in the light of knowledge they already have. They will arrive at a reasoned attitude which is well supported by infor­mation and are well-articulated to change their attitude. The process used is rigorous.

When elaboration is low, people still change their attitude, but they use a less rigorous process. This leads us to two basic processes—low effort process of attitude change and high effort process of attitude change.

ELM caters to qualitative and quantitative distinction. Suppose people are shown a product in a television show along with several arguments for its purchase, they can make a judgement in two ways. One, they can judge the veracity of the arguments on the merits (qualitative).

Alternatively, they can simply count the number of arguments (quantitative) and form an atti­tude towards the product. The former is high elaboration as it takes more cognitive effort. The latter is low elaboration as counting the number of arguments takes less effort. You should not think that it is an either or situ­ation.

Both high and low elaborations take place to create an attitude, but there is a tradeoff between the two. In other words, some attitude changes would involve more high elaboration than low elaboration, and vice versa.

2. Low Effort Processing:

Low-effort attitude change is possible through associative process or inference- based process. Let us now have a look at these processes.

i. Associative Process:

Associative process means we change the attitude by associating the atti­tude object with another positive or negative stimulus. We had a look at this under ‘Heider’s balance theory’. Associative process can be executed through conditioning, affective priming, or mere exposure. A celebrity in an advertisement is a classic example of this process.

a. Conditioning:

In attitude change through conditioning, we associate an attitude object with something desirable/likable. For example, we may change our attitude towards a product because a celebrity endorses it.

b. Affective Priming:

This is also called backward conditioning, and is similar to conditioning. For example, if you present a pleasant picture followed by the attitude object, the response to the attitude object tends to be more positive. A simple example is where a happy family is shown in a commercial, prior to the use of product by that family.

ii. In Inference-Based Processes:

Sometimes people base their attitudes and also change them based on simple inferences, rather than high level of cog­nitive evaluation. Suppose you are sitting with a colleague whom you like a lot and he/she states that too much of workplace flexibility is not good.

When he/she also states that flexible work time should be done away with, you might agree with him/her merely because you like that person, or dis­agree merely because you do not like that person. You do that without any elaborate cognitive analysis of the issues involved. This is a case of inference- based processing. Inference-based process of attitude change can take place through balance, attribution, heuristics, and priming.

a. Balance:

This is based on balance theory. It suggests that people do not want to create unpleasant situations such as disagreeing with someone they like. Therefore, they change their attitude.

b. Attribution:

This theory suggests that people make inferences about themselves and others after observing behaviours and situations that surround those behaviours. If you are working in a team, you can observe your own attitude towards the work in relation to that of oth­ers; then you may change your attitude. Here, the change is attributed to others in the team and the environment; not to any effortful cogni­tive process.

(1) A variant of the above is based on self-perception theory. When people know their own behaviour well, they can infer their attitudes from those behaviours and then change the attitude. For example, a per­son who becomes self-aware of obesity may simply change the attitude towards food without going through any elaborate cognitive pro­cess.

If an organisation helps a person to increase self-perception of himself/herself on an issue like punctuality, the person is likely to change his/her attitude towards punctuality without going through any elaborate cognitive assessment of punctuality.

(2) Over justification is another process of attribution. For example, if you reward people with money for doing something every time, they might attribute that they are doing the job for money and may simply stop doing it. This is the precise reason why excessive rewards tend to become weary.

c. Heuristics:

People often use heuristics or the simple rule of thumb to change their attitude; for example, people simply accept what an expert says and change their attitude without using any cognitive effort to evaluate the information that an expert disseminates. This is the reason why talks by experts often lead to attitude change easily.

d. Priming:

This means exposing a person to a situation so that the per­son changes the attitude. Suppose you ask a person about the impor­tance of training when he/she is in the training centre as against when she/he is on the shop floor, he/she is likely to express more positive attitude towards training when in the training centre than when on the shop floor.

3. High Effort Processing:

In addition to the low-effort attitude change discussions, people tend to change their attitudes through effortful cognitive process, involving both motivation and ability to think. This happens when the issue is of high personal relevance or when people are directly account­able. It also needs good knowledge of the issues.

There should not be any distraction if the high effort process is to take place. The high-effort process is vital for all major change initiatives. Initially, it was hypothesised that high- effort process included attention, comprehension, learning, acceptance, and retention of the information in a persuasive communication.

Later, a model called reception and yielding became popular. This model assumed that attitude change is related to message recall, and that it can be demon­strated through such recall. However, message recall does not mean that one changes one’s attitude. After all, those who do not change the atti­tude can also recall messages.

This led to focus on an individual’s subjec­tive assessment of the desirability of the consequences linked to an attitude object.