Methods to Changing the Attitude

  • Attitude change occurs anytime an attitude is modified. Thus, change occurs when a person goes from being positive to negative, from slightly positive to very positive, or from having no attitude to having one.
  • The various theories that can be used include: 
    • Learning Theory of Attitude Change: Classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning can be used to bring about attitude change.
      • Classical conditioning – create positive emotional reactions to an object, person, or event by associating positive feelings with the target object.
      • Operant conditioning – strengthens desirable attitudes and weakens undesirable ones.
      • Observational learning – let people observe the behaviour of others so that they change their attitude.
    • Elaboration Likelihood Theory of Attitude Change (The theory of persuasion): This theory of persuasion suggests that people can alter their attitudes in two ways.
      • First, they can be motivated to listen and think about the message, thus leading to an attitude shift.
      • Or, they might be influenced by the characteristics of the speaker, leading to a temporary or surface shift in attitude. Messages that are thought-provoking and that appeal to logic are more likely to lead to permanent changes in attitudes.
    • Dissonance Theory of Attitude Change:
      • As mentioned earlier, people can also change their attitudes when they have conflicting beliefs about a topic (cognitive dissonance). To reduce the tension created by these incompatible beliefs, people often shift their attitudes. In the earlier example, the dissonance was created by giving the incentive to change the behaviour, and thus attitude was also changed accordingly. 
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