their behaviour and past experiences - Attitude is a psychological construct that can be a conscious or even unconscious mental and emotional entity which often characterizes an individual’s approach towards something or their personal views. Attitude basically involves people’s mindset, outlook and feelings which can be either positive or negative reaction or both. It is not a person’s actual behaviour but a predisposed state of mind regarding a value and it is precipitated through a responsive expression which in turn influences the individual's thought and action. The rational attitude subdivides into the thinking and feeling psychological functions, while the irrational attitude subdivides into the sensing and intuition psychological functions.
Attitudes are considered to be central field in study of Social Psychology because they are capable of virtually colouring every aspect of human experience, both in past & present. So social roles and norms can have a strong influence on attitudes. Social roles relate to how people are expected to behave in a particular role or context. Social norms involve society's rules for what behaviours are considered appropriate, only because human being is a social animal who cannot live alone.
As every individual has a unique personality and so the different perspectives which ultimately affect their behaviour either favourably or unfavourably, despite attitudes are stable, accessible, strong and resistant because of being relatively enduring in nature it has long-term consequences. Sometimes, it even influences behaviour affecting interpretation given to situation hence attitude is consistent with behaviour. In addition to this, Explicit Attitudes are those that we are consciously aware of and that clearly influence our behaviours and beliefs. Implicit Attitudes are unconscious but still have an effect on our beliefs and behaviours.
Attitudes can be learned in a variety of ways either by observing people around or based on certain moral convictions that might give rise to intense emotions on people’s vested interest to an extent which is concern of particular individual’s relevance that is often more resistant to change. But are expected to change as a function of experience. Research also indicates that, people also engage in reactance – a negative or unpleasant motivational reaction to eliminate specific behavioural personal freedoms. So here attitudes are changed in opposite direction from what exactly a person is being urged to believe. Then individuals simply feel their freedom is being threatened and they are seeking to protect it.
Indeed, attitudes are important because they can guide thought, behaviour, and feelings. Still attitude change occurs anytime when an attitude is needed to be modified it is a science of persuasion – an influential process or efforts to change person’s attitude, but doesn't happen under duress; more of negotiating. This provides insights and a comprehensive approach by carefully examining other related important functioning in human body and mind.
Selective Avoidance is a common human tendency to move away attention from information that challenges individual’s pre-existing attitudes and counter attitudinal input is active to strengthen person’s current views, as it guides the processing of new information. Forewarning – a prior knowledge that someone trying to change attitude provides more opportunity to formulate counterarguments but encourage attitude switch by simply using certain change strategies or techniques like Heuristics- a simple decision rules based on prior experiences or observations where people change their attitudes because they rely on less information and are assumed to facilitate faster decision-making. A kind of a mental shortcut that helps us make decisions and judgments quickly without having to spend a lot of time researching and analysing information.
Cognitive Dissonance is an aversive state that occurs when attitude and behaviour are inconsistent with each other and it is unjustifiable so to shift them with person’s overt behaviour in absence of strong external pressure, focus on discrepancy by making own hypocrisy salient is indeed considered as a powerful tool beneficial for behavioural change by reducing dissonance. Therefore, attitude change is equally significant to attitude building as this develops an ability to move through the world and maintaining a positive attitude as much as possible or rather always can help person achieve measurable success in your personal and professional life!
Psychology, Class-XI & XII, Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Curriculum & Research.
Pearson Edu, Social Psychology, 14th Ed, Branscombe & Baron.