Persuasion, Bias, & Conformity
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Attitudes are a manner of thinking about a person or thing which is also reflected in behavior (Allport, 1935). According to Allport (1935) attitudes occur as a result of individual experience. This concept has remained relatively unchanged since the 1930s. Psychologists today, believe that experience is used to form strong beliefs and these beliefs are the basis of attitudes (Feldman, 2010). Because attitudes are based on strong beliefs, they are thought to have a strong impact on behavior (Feldman, 2010). As a result of this impact on perception and behavior, attitudes can impact people in both positive and negative ways.
Attitudes are founded in three concepts which explain their impact on behavior and thought. Affective, behavioral, and cognitive components are the concepts which attitudes are grounded in. The affective component of attitudes is a person’s emotions and how these emotions reference an idea. For example, “I hate bugs” is an affective attitude because it references bugs with emotions (McLeod, 2009). The behavioral component of an attitude refers to how a thought impacts behavior (McLeod, 2009). If a person runs from a bug because they are frightened by it, then the fear or hatred of bugs has not impacted behavior (McLeod, 2009). The cognitive component of attitudes is the actual thought or belief that one holds concerning an person or thing. Thinking about bugs in a negative manner and holding beliefs and fears creates negative thoughts which is the cognitive component (McLeod, 2009).
Attitudes impact behavior through persuasion, conformity, and biases (McLeod, 2009). Persuasion is one of the most powerful factors which can alter or form attitudes. Depending on the persuasiveness of the person, an attitude can be formed or changed. For example, a parent can create attitudes in children simply by discussing something in a negative or positive manner. If a parent is prejudice, the parent will likely produce prejudicial attitudes in his or her children (Feldman, 2010).
Conformity works in a similar fashion such that people can create attitudes in one another by placing pressure on people. For example, a teenager is likely to adopt the attitudes of a peer group that he or she is attempting to fit into. There are a number of factors which can impact this conformity such as “group size, degree of unanimity and the nature of the task impact how people conform to particular attitudes” (Feldman, 2010). Attitudes can also be created through biases such as desires to appease people or to maintain other beliefs. A good example of attitudes being formed by bias can be seen in the manner in which many religious people dislike homosexuals due to their religious belief that homosexuality is a sin.
Although individuals are capable of free and autonomous thinking they are still prone to persuasion and conformity. Attitudes are driving force in this propensity to act in specific ways and to believe in certain ideas. These attitudes can impact the manner in which people treat one another whether this be positive or negative. There is still a large unknown with regard to attitudes. Further research is needed in this area in order to discover more connections between attitudes and behavior.
Attitudes can create positive thinking about circumstances or highly negative thoughts. It is likely that attitudes are formed as a means of creating cohesiveness in society. However, attitudes can have the opposite impact when negative attitudes are focused on people in a manner which is harmful.
Allport, G. (1935). Attitudes. A Handbook of Social Psychology , 789–844.
Feldman, R. S. (2010). Psychology and your life. New York: McGraw Hill.
McLeod, S. (2009). Attitudes and Behavior. Retrieved from Simply Psychology: http://www.simplypsychology.org/attitudes.html
Vincent Triola. Tue, Feb 02, 2021. Attitudes & Human Behavior Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/attitudes-human-behavior