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Attitude Theories

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Attitude Theories
Your attitude is your positive or negative evaluation about an object. There is more than one theory about how a person’s attitude is formed through cognitive, behavioral, and affective processes. This paper will outline two theories of how a person’s attitude is formed.
Self Perception Theory
Fazio stated that self perception theory argued that attitudes stem from the observation of one’s behavior. (Fazio, 1987, p. 129) A person’s attitude toward something is formed after that person observes their behavior toward an object. An example is you listen to rock music, therefore you must like it, and you would form a positive attitude towards rock music based on your behavior of listening to it. An individual decides their attitude, and emotional feeling toward an object based on the observation of their own behavior and the circumstances that caused the behavior. Self-perception theory also suggests that when the internal cues are weak or uninterpretable, the individual is in the same position as the outside observer who must rely on external cues to infer the individual’s inner state. (Bem, 1972) What I believe to be a negative aspect of this attitude theory is I don’t believe an attitude toward an object is based solely on one’s behavior. An example would be as a child my mother told me to eat spinach and even though I ate the spinach, didn’t mean I liked it because I ate it. I ate it so I wouldn’t get in trouble but my attitude towards spinach was that I disliked it. A positive aspect to this attitude theory is I believe behavior does play a role in the formation of an attitude. If you see a person doing something with a frown on their face while they are doing it, it may make you have a negative attitude towards it bases on their behavior.
Theory of Planned Behavior
The theory of planned behavior outlines how attitudes predict behavior. (Franzoi, 2009, p. 172). This theory states that our behavior is a product of three guidelines. The first is our attitude towards the behavior, which is whether we have a positive or negative view of the behavior, the second is our perception of the behavior and social pressure to perform or not to perform the behavior, and the third is our belief on how difficult or easy it is to perform the behavior. (Ajzen, 1991) An example would be a person in sales having a goal to sell $30,000 worth of product a month. If that person believed they could do it and had a positive attitude and great confidence that they could succeed, most likely they would succeed. If that person didn’t believe they could do it, and had a negative attitude about the goal or task at hand, their behavior would reflect that, and most likely they would not succeed and meet their goal. This is different from self-perception theory because self-perception theory states that behavior causes the attitude. The theory of planned behavior states that the attitude causes the behavior. The negative aspect of this theory is that a negative attitude towards something may not always mean negative behavior. I could have a negative aspect towards a part of my job, but I am going to still do well and do a good job so that I may keep my job. The positive side of this theory is that I believe if you constantly tell yourself that you can achieve a certain goal, and people are expecting you to do a good job, you will achieve you goal and do a good job because you don’t want to let anybody down and this can help push you to be your best.
These are just two of the many attitude theories that are out there. The self-perception theory states that behavior causes the attitude and the theory of planned behavior states that the attitude causes the behavior. They both provide different, but very educated outlooks on how our attitudes are formed. References
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), Retrieved from doi: 10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T

Bem, D.J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 6. Retrieved from

Fazio, R.H. (1987). Social influence: The Ontario Symposium [Volume 5]. Retrieved from lr=&id=eodBX6zX2tcC&oi=fnd&pg=PA129&dq= self-perception+theory&ots=JUBCOFEu4s

Franzoi, Stephen L. (2009). Social psychology. Columbus, OH: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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