Attitude and Behaviour

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Can attitude predict behaviour?

It would seem reasonable to argue the existence of a link between attitude and behaviour and to further assume that it is those same attitudes that determine that behaviour. However, there are many variables to consider which may affect the strength of such a link. It is important to distinguish between the influence of different types of attitude (reference), the first type being attitudes towards general entities and the second being attitudes towards more specific ones. This essay will look at how attitudes can be a poor predictor of behaviour on a broad perspective but become effective predictors when looked at in a narrower and more specific way. However, the additional impact of a wide array of other variables undermines the accuracy of the link between attitudes and behaviour and complicates the drawing of clear conclusions. ‘Attitude’ is defined by Eagly and Chaiken in their book The Psychology of Attitudes as ‘a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favour or disfavour’.(reference) In other words, an ‘attitude’ is a judgement or evaluation made about any ‘entity’ which can be assessed along a measurement of favourability. As well as a person’s attitudes differing in positivity, (i.e. some attitudes possessed can be positive, neutral or negative), they also can differ in strength, (i.e. one may feel more strongly about a certain topic than another), and therefore consider it a more important topic. In brief, ‘behaviour’ is the actions of an individual which can be objectively measured. Some may argue that attitudes are a weak predictor of behaviour. In 1969, Wicker, after reviewing studies such as that of Richard LaPiere, concluded that attitudes and behaviour are only slightly, if at all, related. LaPiere, in the 1930s, seemed to suggest very little correlation between attitude and behaviour. LaPiere travelled around America with an Asian couple at a time where...
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