Do attitudes determine
Are we all hypocrites?
When do attitudes predict behaviour?
Does behaviour determine
Saying becomes believing
The foot-in-the-door phenomenon
Evil acts and attitudes
Good acts and attitudes
Why do actions affect
Self-justification: Cognitive dissonance
Comparing the theories
ach year throughout the industrialized world, the tobacco
industry kills some 2 million of its best customers (Peto et al., 1992). Given present trends, estimates a 1994 World Health Organization report, half a billion people alive today will be killed by tobacco. Although quick assisted suicide may be illegal, slowmotion suicide assisted by the tobacco industry is not. People wonder: With the tobacco industry responsible for fatalities equal to 14 loaded and crashed jumbo jets a day (not including those in the expanding but hard to count developing world market), how do tobacco company executives live with themselves? At one of the world’s two largest tobacco advertisers, upper-level executives—mostly intelligent, family-oriented, communityminded people—resent being called “mass murderers.” They were less than pleased when one government official (Koop, 1997) called them “a sleazy bunch of people who misled us, deceived us and lied to us for three decades.” Moreover, they defend smokers’ right to choose. “Is it an addiction issue?” asks one vice-president. “I don’t believe it. People do all sorts of things to express their individuality and to protest against society. And smoking is one of them, and not the worst” (Rosenblatt, 1994).
Social psychologists wonder: Do such statements reflect privately held attitudes? If this executive really thinks smoking is a comparatively healthy expression of individuality, how are such attitudes internalized? Or do his statements reflect social pressure to say things he doesn’t believe?
When people question someone’s attitude, they refer to beliefs and feelings related to a person or event and the resulting behaviour. Taken together, favourable or unfavourable evaluative reactions— whether exhibited in beliefs, feelings, or inclinations to act—define a
a favourable or
toward something or
someone, exhibited in
one’s beliefs, feelings,
or intended behaviour
“The ancestor of
every action is a
Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Essays, First Series, 1841
Attitudes and actions:
Many sports events, which
glorify health and physical
prowess, are sponsored by
manufacturers of products
like cigarettes, which are
dangerous to health.
person’s attitude toward something
(Olson & Zanna, 1993). Attitudes
are an efficient way to size up the
world. When we have to respond
quickly to something, how we feel
about it can guide how we react
(Bassili & Roy, 1998; Breckler
& Wiggins, 1989; Sanbonmatsu
& Fazio, 1990). For example, a person who believes a particular ethnic group is lazy and aggressive may
feel dislike for such people and
therefore intend to act in a discriminatory manner. When assessing attitudes, we tap one of these three dimensions. You can remember
them as the ABCs of attitudes: affect
(feelings), behaviour (intention),
and cognition (thoughts).
The study of attitudes is close to
the heart of social psychology and historically was one of its first concerns. Researchers wondered: How much do our attitudes affect our actions?
Do attitudes determine behaviour?
To what extent, and under what conditions, do attitudes drive our outward actions? Why were social psychologists at first surprised by a seemingly small connection between attitudes and actions?
What is the...
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