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Attitudes and Behavior

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Attitudes and Behavior

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10:51 AM

Page 41

Chapter 3
When and How Attitudes Guide Behavior
The Ohio State University

University of Alabama

C onsider each of the following statements. Do you believe the statement to be true or false? 1. College students who disapprove of cheating do not cheat on tests; it is only the students who view cheating as acceptable who do cheat. 2. When segregation was still legal, hotel and restaurant owners with racial stereotypes toward Chinese people would not serve them food or allow them to stay at their establishments. 3. How well people like their jobs is predictive of people’s job attendance. Those who like their jobs are less likely to miss a day of work. 4. During the 1970s, people who felt that the energy crisis was a significant problem used less energy than did those who did not really believe that there was a crisis. 5. Regardless of whether an employer makes a snap judgment or deliberates extensively about a hiring decision, if the employer has a negative attitude toward working women, a female candidate will not be hired.

All of these commonsense statements assume that people’s attitudes influence their actions and decisions. In fact, as we will see in this chapter, none of these five statements is correct. The basic finding of decades of research is that sometimes people act in accordance with their attitudes, and other times they act in ways that are quite inconsistent with their attitudes. In this chapter, we address three fundamental questions regarding the attitude–behavior relation (Zanna & Fazio, 1982). First, is there a relation? That is, do attitudes influence behavior? Second, when is such a relation to be expected? In other words, what variables determine the degree to which attitudes might influence behavior? To the extent that attitudes do predict behavior, this question concerns the identification of other factors that play a...

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