Relation of Attitude & Behaviour

Basis for comparisonAttitudeBehaviour
MeaningAttitude refers to a person’s mental view of how he/she thinks or feels or something.Behaviour implies an individual or group’s actions, moves, conduct or functions towards other persons.
What is it?A person’s mindset.A person’s mindset.
ReflectsWhat do you think or feel?What do you do?
Defined byThe way we perceive things.Social Norms

Impact of  Behaviour on Attitude 

  • People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and behaviour. When a person has to act in contrast to his attitude, there will be some unrest inside him due to the discrepancy. Something must change to eliminate or reduce cognitive dissonance.
  • The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding conflicting beliefs and behaviour. The feeling of discomfort motivates a person to reduce it. There are generally three ways of reducing cognitive dissonance:
    • Change the behaviour
    • Ignore the situation
    • Change the attitude

Attitude’s Influence and Relation with Thought and Behaviour 

  • For example, plenty of people may support a particular candidate, but they may not take the pain to go out and vote for him, Thus, attitudes may not always predict the actual pattern of one’s behaviour.
  • LaPierre’s study shows that the cognitive and affective components of attitudes do not necessarily coincide with behaviour.
  • There can also be instances where negative behaviour co-exists with a positive attitude. This usually occurs when the positive attitude needs to be stronger. For example, consider a person with a positive attitude, not to jump a queue.
  • However, when he sees everyone around him doing the same, he may think he will lose, if not jump queues. Thus, he may behave opposite to his original attitude – which we can call as positive.
  • Psychologists have found that there would be consistency between attitudes and behaviour when:
    • The attitude is strong and occupies a central place in the attitude system.
    • The person is aware of their attitude.
    • There is very little or no external pressure on the person to behave in a particular way. For example, there is no group pressure to follow a particular norm.
    • The person’s behaviour is not being watched or evaluated by others.
    • The person thinks that the behaviour would have a positive consequence and intends to engage in that behaviour.
  • Note: Persons with high integrity usually show a direct relation between attitude and behaviour.
  • People dislike Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when a person experiences psychological distress due to conflicting thoughts or beliefs. To reduce this, people may change their attitudes to reflect their other beliefs or actual behaviours.
  • This means they prefer their attitude and behaviour to be aligned in the same direction. By giving incentives to behave contrary to the attitude, Leon Festinger and James Carl smith (study in 1954) proved that the first attitude can be changed to suit their external behaviour.

Factors Influencing Relation Between Attitude & Behaviour

i). Qualities of a person:

  • People who are aware of their feelings display more attitude-behaviour consistently than those who rely on situational questions to decide how to behave.
  • People with a high level of integrity show a high correlation between Attitude and Behaviour.
  • People in individual societies have more correlation compared to people in a collective society.

ii). Qualities of attitude:

  • Strong and weak attitudes show a high and low correlation between attitude and behaviour, respectively.
  • Attitude accessibility – Attitudes which are acted upon on regular basis are more accessible from memory. Such attitudes show a higher correlation with behaviour.

iii). Situation:

  • Norms or beliefs about how one should or is expected to behave in a given situation can exert a powerful influence on behaviour.
  • Time pressure results in behaviour as per attitude
  • Survival instincts dominate attitude.

Steps To Increase Correlation Between Attitude And Behaviour

  • Development of emotional intelligence.
  • Introspection
  • Attitude literacy – learn what attitudes are. Identify your good and bad attitudes.
  • Connecting with a conscience – try to understand the reasons behind a holding particular attitude.
  • Developing values of integrity and truthfulness.
  • Discovering ways to motivate yourself. vii. See change as an opportunity to grow.  
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