Consumer Attitude

Topics: Cognitive psychology, Cognition, Psychology Pages: 63 (15507 words) Published: September 9, 2012
Consumer Attitudes Revisited: A Review
of Attitude Theory in Marketing Researchijmr_
299 431..451431..451
Evmorfia Argyriou and T.C. Melewar1
Department of Management, King’s College, University of London, London Franklin-Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK, and 1Brunel Business School, Brunel University West London, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH,UK

Corresponding author email:
Few concepts in the marketing literature have proliferated like the concept of attitude. However, a closer look at studies investigating attitudes as consumers’ responses to marketing efforts reveals a considerable diversity in perspectives about the concept of attitude and its formation. Attitudes are considered either relatively stable object– associations, or temporarily constructed evaluations, which are formed through memory (cognitive)-based information processing or contextual and affect-based information processing. The current paper discusses and organizes these different theoretical viewpoints on what attitudes are and how they are formed. By approaching the topic through an integrative lens, the paper provides a solid conceptual foundation and roadmap for marketing researchers.

Marketing researchers and managers alike rely
heavily on attitudinal surveys to estimate people’s
preferential responses to a range of marketing
objects, such as products, brands and advertisements
(Grewal et al. 2004; Lee and Labroo 2004; Pieters
et al. 2010), retail sites (Yoo et al. 1998), websites
(Chen and Wells 1999; Schlosser 2003b) and Web
commercials (Bruner and Kumar 2000; Stevenson
et al. 2000). As a result, understanding the concept
of attitude and the process of attitude formation
is important to researchers and managers interested
in altering consumers’ evaluation of marketing
objects in order to influence their preferences and
tendencies to engage in particular behaviour.
However, the marketing literature is filled with
diverse views on attitude (Cohen and Reed 2006;
Schwarz 2006). The diversity stems from two issues
surrounding the attitude concept: the first is whether
attitude is a stable object-related association stored
and then evoked in memory (Fazio 1990), or a temporary
evaluation of an object constructed in situ
at the time of a judgment (Feldman and Lynch 1988;
Schwarz and Bohner 2001). The second and interrelated
issue is whether attitude formation is a
strictly cognitive process, stemming from analytical,
deliberative evaluative categorization (Fishbein
and Ajzen 1975; Fishbein and Middlestadt 1995,
1997) or an affective one, based on emotions and
feelings which guide categorization at the time
of evaluation (Schwarz 1997, 1998; Zajonc 1984).
Several theorists have discussed their views on these
issues, thus building a clear distinction between
functional vs constructive views of attitude and its
process of formation.
Functional theory supports the notion that
attitudes are stored in memory in the form of
object-related associations, and hence are relatively
stable and evoked in memory when needed (Eagly
and Chaiken 1993; Katz 1960; Shavitt 1990). For
example, when a decision is to be made about an
International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 13, 431–451 (2011) DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2011.00299.x
© 2011 The Authors
International Journal of Management Reviews © 2011 British Academy of Management and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA

object, the relevant attitude will be activated to
inform the decision. The process can certainly be
influenced by situational factors, but it is safe to
assume that certain attitudes are stored in the form of
memory associations, because they serve basic
human needs (functions), such as the need to summarize
knowledge and express values. Contrary to
the functional view on...
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