• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why is behaviour not always consistent with underlying attitudes?

Extracts from this document...


Mansoor Mir 28th January 2004 PS2007: Social Psychology II Why is behaviour not always consistent with underlying attitudes? (Spring 2003) In his classic review of attitude to behaviour relations Wicker (1969) concludes that there is little or no correlation between behaviour and underlying attitudes. However, methodological problems with cited studies (such as that of LaPierre, 1934) have since cast doubt on Wicker's conclusions. More recent work by Ajzen (1988) and Fazio (1990) has provided strong support for the existence of an attitude-behaviour relationship. The apparent absence of such a relation in earlier studies can be explained in terms of moderating variables. Aggregations across behaviours, the specificity of attitude and behaviour measurement, individual differences, and direct experience have all been shown to affect the degree of correlation between behaviour and attitudes. The accessibility, stability and strength of an attitude have also been shown to determine consistency with later behaviour. Fishbein & Ajzen's (1974) Multiple Act Criterion (MAC) predicts that attitude to behaviour relations are stronger if an aggregate of several specific behaviours are compared against underlying attitudes. The MAC is conceptually sound; it makes sense that multiple observations would help to control confounding variables that might affect the apparent consistency between attitudes and specific behaviours. Moreover, the prediction has been empirically tested. For example, Weigel & Newman (1976) ...read more.


Regan & Fazio (1977) asked participants to rate the interest level of puzzles (the attitude measure) and then observed how long each participant played with the puzzle when given no specific instructions (behaviour measure). Before the attitude measure some participants were allowed to familiarise themselves with the puzzles (direct experience condition) whilst others merely had the puzzles described to them (indirect experience condition). It was found that there was a greater attitude-behaviour correlation for participants within the direct experience condition. The same result has also been found using different attitude objects and in more ecologically valid field settings (Fazio & Zanna, 1978). There is therefore strong evidence that direct experience strengthens the attitude-behaviour relationship. Attitude accessibility, stability and strength have also been found to affect this relationship. Fazio & Williams (1986) found that people who responded quicker when evaluating presidential candidates (attitude accessibility measure) voted more consistently with their attitudes. Similarly it has been shown that greater attitude stability (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) and self-report measures of attitude strength (Fazio & Zanna, 1978) both correlate with greater attitude-behaviour consistency. However, it should be noted that all three of the above concepts are very closely related. It may be that they are all tapping a feature of attitudes that could be captured on a single dimension. ...read more.


This means that it fails to fully explain more automatic or instinctive behaviour. Fazio's (1990) Motivation and Opportunity as Determinants of Processing Theory (MODE) provides a parsimonious and intuitive solution to this problem. The theory dictates that effortful reasoning sometimes mediates attitude-behaviour relations but only when both motivation and opportunity are present. In other cases a more spontaneous and automatic process is proposed (Fazio, 1986). As well as accounting for automatic behaviour the theory also has strong empirical support. By manipulating motivation and opportunity in a lab setting Sanbonmatsu & Fazio (1990) were able to demonstrate that these factors determine whether or not effortful reasoning mediates the effects of attitudes on behaviour. In conclusion, it can be demonstrated that a whole host of variables moderate attitude-behaviour relations. Aggregations across behaviours, the specificity of attitude and behaviour measurement, individual differences (personal variables) and direct experience (situational variables) all have observable effects on the consistency between behaviour and underlying attitudes. Attitude accessibility, stability and strength have also been observed to have an effect but it is likely that these factors are simply consequences of direct experience. In addition the above variables may not constitute a complete list. That is, future work may expose further processes that mediate attitude-behaviour relations. Finally, the theory that best integrates all of these factors is the MODE model proposed by Fazio (1990). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. whether leading questions can affect a person's memory of a question and insert an ...

    They all looked at a picture of a bowl of fruit for 15 seconds and then completed a leading or a non-leading questionnaire. They were all then given a debriefing sheet to read and given the right to withdraw. Ethics Ethical issues had to be dealt with whilst conducting the experiment.

  2. Pro and Anti Social Behaviour

    However, evidence that noise acts like any other stressor challenges this view. This is suggested as this explains that noise increases the activity of the Autonomic nervous system such as the heart rate, and hormone levels (e.g. testosterone, Bronzaft) Overall Evaluation Theories and evidence which show that environmental features can provoke aggressive behaviour are linked with the Frustration-aggression hypothesis.

  1. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been promoted as 'mixing the best of the civil and ...

    the threat of a large fine or imprisonment or both as mentioned above. It is essentially a 'last chance' measure - a threat to the offender that if he or she does not stop the antisocial element(s) of their behaviour they will be liable to criminal prosecution.

  2. Investigating the relationship between ecological attitudes and behaviour.

    This demonstrates that there are different factors that shape behaviour despite the individual holding an opposing attitude. Therefore one needs to look at the components of an attitude and their relationship to behaviour. Attitudes are made up of at least three elements - cognitions, affect and action tendencies (the three component model).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work