Psychology attitudes

Topics: Cognitive dissonance, Psychology, Cognition Pages: 5 (1442 words) Published: April 16, 2014
 An attitude is a way of thinking or feeling which is typically reflected in a person’s behaviour. Attitudes are favourable or unfavourable way of viewing situations. They form an essential foundation for social thought; they are usually shaped by a person’s family environment, religion and education. Attitudes can help people adapt and adjust to new situations. A person’s attitude towards a situation can help to make decision making processes easier, faster and ensure the best possible outcome for a situation. Attitudes are most likely to affect behaviour when they are strong, well defined and accessible.  The least productive attitudes are ambivalent ones, they tend also tend to produce the most unstable behavioural responses because of the mixture of attitudes, they are however the easiest to change. People tend to have similar attitudes to those around them, and in social situations will temper their responses in an attempt to compare them to those around them, this allows people to measure their attitudes to determine of their views are socially correct or not. Festinger (1954) describes this as social comparison.  The only problem with comparing out attitudes to others is that there is the possibility of picking up on and adopting negative attitudes despite the fact that they contradict the automatic and unconscious evaluation of implicit attitudes. The structure of attitudes can be separated into three components, an ABC of attitudes. They consist of the Affective component which involves the feelings and emotions about the attitude object. Behavioural which is how the attitude influences how we act or behave and Cognitive this involves the person’s belief and attitudes around the attitude object. There has been much research into attitudes, in an attempt to discover how people form attitudes and how they in turn impact upon behaviour. The cognitive approach focuses the internal mental processes used. It uses an analogy of the mind as a computer to describe the way in which information is processed. It has been the basis of many therapies and suggests that mental and psychological disorders are due to a fault in the way people think. The aim of such therapies is to target inappropriate ways of thinking and to teach people how to adapt healthier mental attitudes.  Ellis (1962) developed a model to explain how irrational attitudes can lead to negative behaviours; it is known as the ABC model which details an activating event, beliefs and consequences. The theory of the ABC model is as follows, (A) something happens. (B) You have a belief about the situation. (C) You have an emotional reaction to the belief. This model suggests that a person’s attitude (belief) is what shapes their reaction to the situation, and not the actual event itself. If this is the case then the way in which to change a person’s behaviour is to change the way that they think about situations that occur, by teaching people techniques to view situations in a more positive way you can in turn shape their behaviour. Festinger (1956) proposed cognitive dissonance theory as a way in which to explain how people can justify behaviours that go against their attitudes. He believed that people become uneasy when faced with contradictory ideas or dissonance. When confronted with dissonance the unpleasantness felt by a person motivates them to change their cognition, attitude or behaviour so that they can reconcile their inner conflict and achieve consonance. If two or more opinions, beliefs or items of knowledge are dissonant with each other they do not fit together, this inconsistency leads people to try to rationalise their behaviour. An example of this is someone speeding, they assure themselves that it was ok because they were late and as such can feel comfortable with the decision that they have made despite the fact that it goes against their knowledge that what they are doing is wrong, this rationalisation allows us to eliminate cognitive dissidence...
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