How do Attitudes predict Behaviour?
This piece will be looking at the ability of attitudes held by potential consumers to help predict consumer behaviour. How well can our thoughts and feelings, our attitudes help predict what our behaviour is going to be towards something, a company, brand or even and end product. Then after discussing the level to which our attitudes can help, we will then look at the ways in which marketers have used attitude change strategies in an attempt to also change consumer behaviour in their favour, persuading consumers to purchase and try their product. Attitudes represent our covert feelings of favourability or unfavourably toward an object, person, issue, or behaviour. Formally, attitude is defined as “a learned predisposition to response in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given object” (Fishbein and Ajzen 1975, p. 6). Consumers learn these attitudes over time by being exposed to the object directly, by experiencing, or through receiving information about the object through advertising for example. Our learned attitudes serve as general guides to our overt behaviour with respect to the attitude object, giving rise to a consistently favourable or unfavourable pattern of response. An attitude is a permanent combination of emotion, motivation, perceptual and cognitive processes in relation to an aspect our environment. An attitude is the way we think and feel about and act towards some aspect of our environment such as a retail store, a television program or a product. Thus an attitude can be summarised as an overall evaluation. (Neal, Quester, Hawkins 2006, p.333) There are three main attitude components, these being cognitive, for example beliefs, affective, also known as feelings and behavioural component, which are our response tendencies. The cognitive aspect of an attitude consists of a consumer’s beliefs and knowledge about the object in question. An important thing to remember about a person’s beliefs of an object is that they need not be true or correct; they simply need only to exist in the mind of the beholder. The cognitive response is a cognitive evaluation of the entity to form an attitude. Many beliefs about attributes are evaluating in nature. Attractive styling and reliable performance are generally seen a positive, the more positive beliefs that there are relating to a particular brand then the more positive each belief is presumed to be. The more components that you see as being favorable then the more you will see the object as a whole in a favorable light. The distinction between the affective and cognitive component of an attitude has attracted much attention in research on attitude structure and attitude change. (Insko & Schopler, 1967; Rosenberg & Hovland, 1960; Breckler & Wiggins, 1989) The affective component of attitude includes feelings, emotions, or drives associated with an attitude object. (Breckler, 1984; McGuire, 1969; Zanna & Remple, 1988) A consumer who uses the words, “I like” or “I hate” with reference to an object is expressing the results of an emotional or affective evaluation of a product. This overall evaluation of the product maybe a result of several evaluations of the objects performance over a number of attributes, or simply a first impression that was developed without any cognitive information at all. The behavioural component of an attitude is the tendency of the attitude holder to respond in a certain manner towards an object or activity. It’s why we chose to purchase or not to purchase a product, or why we recommend it or another band to our friends. The link between attitude and behavior exists but depends on human behavior, some of which is irrational. For example, a person who is in favor of blood transfusion may not donate blood. This makes sense if the person does not like the sight of blood, which explains this irrationality. (Katz 1960.) It is argued that perceived behavioural control,...
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