Process by Which Attitudes Influence Behavior and Vice Versa – Attitudes (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:02 So, let’s take a look at how in certain situations attitudes can better predict your behavior.

    00:07 So, the first is when social influence is reduced or removed.

    00:11 So, you’re actually removed from sort of responsibility and less social judgment.

    00:17 So say, for example, if you’re at a table with your peers and they’re asking whether or not you should kick one of your friends out of group.

    00:27 Okay. And they’re like, “You know what, Tom, I’m not a big fun of Tom.

    00:30 Should we kick him out? Let’s have a vote.” And sitting around a table, you have to say yay or nay.

    00:35 Tom in or is Tom out of the group? Now, at that point, everybody knows what your vote is.

    00:41 And so you have that sense of responsibility.

    00:43 And so your attitude is influenced by that sense of responsibility.

    00:49 So socially because you’re identified, you might act the certain way.

    00:53 Now, flip that and let’s say, in private, on this piece of paper, we’re going to scribble down what you think and we’re going to put it in a bowl and then we’re going to tally up the results and that’s when will decide whether or not Tom can stay or he’s out of our group.

    01:05 In that point, you might be much more honest and you might actually truly express your real behavior, sort of attitude towards this vote as opposed to the attitude that you might have to express outwardly because of that responsibility.

    01:22 Now, other way is this general pattern of behavior.

    01:25 And here, what we’re saying is there’s an aggregate or average behavior.

    01:28 So, for example, let’s say trying to be healthy.

    01:33 If you say, you know what? I think that I’m trying to healthier in my life.

    01:39 Now, that’s your general statement.

    01:41 And so, your general behavior might be, “Typically, I try to do good.” And so you hear people saying this, “How do you eat?” “Well, generally, I’m a pretty good eater.” So what does that mean? That means, well, the bulk of the time their behavior reflects their attitude of being pretty healthy.

    01:58 Does that mean that they’re not going to go out and have a big bowl of ice cream with their girlfriend? Of course not.

    02:02 Of course they’re going to indulge once in awhile.

    02:04 But generally speaking, their pattern of behavior will reflect their overall attitude.

    02:10 Another one is a more specific attitude.

    02:13 If you really want to see how healthy somebody is, you would ask him point black some specific situations and say, “Okay, specifically, do you eat cheesecake?” And if your answer is, “Well, yeah, sometimes I do.” That means that you have a certain attitude towards healthiness versus, “Hey, do you ever eat cheesecake?” “Oh never, I wouldn’t touch cheesecake ever because my body is a temple and I am the healthiest eater you’ve ever met.” I now understand their behavior much more specifically than if I was asking that general pattern of behavior.

    02:45 And the last one is something called “self-reflection or self-awareness”.

    02:48 And this reminds us of our beliefs.

    02:50 And it allows us to align ourselves and our attitudes with our behavior.

    02:56 So, think of a scenario when you’re maybe at a -- at an honest open bar scenario where you’re supposed to help yourself, and based on what you take, you put $5 into the till.

    03:10 Now, if there’s no mirror, there’s nobody around, you might have four, five drinks and only pay for one.

    03:16 Now, all of a sudden, if there’s a camera or if there’s a mirror, and all of a sudden, you’re forced to kind of look at your actions and be responsible for what you’re doing.

    03:27 You’re going to have that sense of responsibility.

    03:30 You’re much more self-aware of what you’re doing and you have that ownership.

    03:33 You take that ownership and typically, your attitudes, your behavior reflect your attitude a little bit better.

    03:41 Okay. So let’s take a look at some examples where behavior can actually precede and affect our attitude.

    03:47 So, there are certain situations where your behavior can actually change more and transition your attitude.

    03:54 So, one example is role playing.

    03:56 So this brings us back to the classic Zimbardo prison study where we took a cohort of students and we separated them.

    04:02 Half of them were assigned the role of being a prison guard and the other half resides being the actual prison inmates.

    04:09 And what they did was, these are -- they weren’t in real life prisoners or prison guards, they were just assigned that role in this role playing experiment.

    04:18 And what they realized was that slowly, actually fairly quickly, these individuals started to blur their reality and started to act like prison guards and the prisoner started acting like prisoners and they started taking on those roles.

    04:31 The prisoners were being more deviant and not listening, and they’re having to be disciplined by the prison guards who are more than happy to give them their daily beatings.

    04:39 And, you know, this is all because of them role playing.

    04:43 So, their behavior started to change their actual attitudes.

    04:48 Another scenario is public declarations and this is when an individual will actually declare their beliefs and then their attitudes actually start to catch up to what they’ve publically declared.

    05:00 So I think the easy example is when you look at politicians.

    05:03 We happen to be in the middle of a U.S. political debate right now and a political run with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    05:12 And every day you put on the news and you see these individuals making -- professing their claims on certain things.

    05:18 Let’s say, for example, their stance on abortion.

    05:21 So, they may understand that the bulk of their voters are, say, for abortion or pro-choice or whatever it might be, have a certain stance.

    05:31 They might be kind of, “Well, I don’t have a strong stance on either.

    05:35 My attitudes are sort of, well, I’m not sure.” But they know that their voters, the bulk of their voters, are thinking are certain way.

    05:42 They might publicly declare and say, “Our party and I stand for pro-choice.” And internally, really, they’re kind of up in the air about it.

    05:51 But they professed it.

    05:52 They publicly declared that they are pro-choice.

    05:55 And as a result, the voters were like, “Awesome! I think Tarry is amazing because he’s pro-choice, I’m pro-choice. I’m voting for him.” Now, through the process of public declaration and having to follow up with that, as they continue to speak about it or quiz about it, they’re like, “Tarry, are you really pro-choice?” “Oh yeah, I said it on the news and I mean it. I am pro-choice.” And other debates will happen and now they’re having to, say, defend their stance.

    06:19 And I’m having to say, “Well, I’m pro-choice for the following reasons.” And at a debate, they’re like, “Tarry, you’re an idiot for being pro-choice.” Well, I’m actually not an idiot because the recent number show this and current views are that.

    06:32 And now all of a sudden, I start to shift my views to align with what I’ve actually, publically, declared.

    06:39 So before this whole exercise, I may have been ambivalent about it.

    06:42 But by the end, I am actually really pro-choice.

    06:45 And so, that’s a situation where my behavior of publicly declaring has influenced my attitude.

    06:54 Here’s another great scenario and that’s where we’re looking at justification and effort.

    06:59 So, consider the notion that behavior sometimes precedes and affects are attitudes, so the A, B, C.

    07:04 And in certain situations, behavior can influence our attitude.

    07:07 So, if I’m putting a lot of work into what I’m doing, so a lot of effort is contributed to behavior, that’s going to influence my attitude.

    07:16 Let’s take a look at you right now.

    07:17 You’re sitting here, watching these videos of me.

    07:20 Okay. I don’t know how exciting that can be.

    07:22 And in front of you is a book, an MCAT prep book, and you’ve been doing this day after day after day.

    07:26 You’re busting your hump to go and write this exam.

    07:29 You’re going to ace that exam.

    07:30 And then you’re going to go and do years and years of school.

    07:33 And then you’re going to go and get in to a hospital and then you can do your residency.

    07:36 And then you’re going to be at the very end where they finally shake your hand and say, “Good job, you’re now a doctor and you’re going to be a rock star, you’re going to make lots of money and save lives.” That’s about to happen to you.

    07:46 But at the very end, right when you’re almost done, you realize that you’re just too good-looking to not share your body with others and you really want to pursue a dance and being an exotic dancer.

    07:57 And you say to yourself, “Well, should I become an exotic dancer, or do I actually follow through on becoming a world renowned doctor because of all the effort that I’ve put in to this?” And so now, the effort that I’ve put in is actually shaping your attitude as opposed to which you really want to do which is dance, make a lot of money and make people happy.

    08:16 So you go and you follow the rule of becoming a doctor because of the effort that you put in to it.

    08:22 So it’s a situation where the effort is contributing to the behavior that’s going to influence your attitude.

    08:29 Now, let’s take a look at another scenario.

    08:31 And this might be something that, you know, sneaky parents try to do sometimes.

    08:35 And this is a foot-in-the-door phenomenon.

    08:37 And this is where you entice an individual with small actions or simple behaviors to basically get their foot in the door, and eventually because they’ve logged in to some of that work and their behavior is now slowly starting to be shifted, by the end, they actually have a strong attitude towards the task.

    08:53 So, let me put that into a concrete example and in English for you.

    08:57 So back to this whole MCAT school scenario.

    08:59 Maybe when you were younger, you were saying, “You know what? I want to be an artist, Mom.” Or, “I want to be a dancer, Mom.” And your mom says, “Well, you know what? There’s not a lot future in that and you really don’t have the legs to be a dancer.

    09:11 So why don’t you just go and do a semester at university and after that, if you want, you can go and travel the world or you can follow up at dance school and see how that goes.” So you say to yourself, “All right, I promise my mom a year at school and I’ll go.” So you’ve got your foot in the door.

    09:26 So you go to school, you’re registered for your classes, and you realized, “You know what? I really didn’t think I like school but I kind of like school and I’ve already logged in a year.

    09:33 I might as well just keep going.

    09:35 And you know, I really like this whole biology thing or neuroscience is really tickling my fancy. I think I’m going to do that.” Next thing you know, you’ve become a PhD in neuroscience, okay? And that was because you’ve got your foot in the door and you’re enticing to doing something and that slowly, that behavior of getting started has impacted your ultimate attitude towards being in school.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Process by Which Attitudes Influence Behavior and Vice Versa – Attitudes (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Individual Influences on Behavior.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. During a job interview
    2. In an anonymous feedback form
    3. In an individual's overall social media profile
    4. While being asked about the amount of exercise done in the past month
    5. When asked about specific moral issues
    1. Aggregate behavior
    2. Role playing
    3. Justification of effort
    4. Foot-in-the-door
    5. Public statement
    1. When someone attends a party with strangers
    2. When someone uses anonymous data
    3. When someone uses the principle of aggregation
    4. When someone considers a specific attitude
    5. When someone performs self-reflection
    1. You are allowed a one-time indulgence in an activity.
    2. You have a sense of responsibility to fulfill.
    3. You have made a public declaration.
    4. You have significant money at stake.
    5. You have certain religious beliefs and norms.
    1. Accessibility
    2. Value relevance
    3. Social identification
    4. Sense of responsibility
    5. Self-interest

    Author of lecture Process by Which Attitudes Influence Behavior and Vice Versa – Attitudes (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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