Attitude and Behaviour, which comes first?

Essay by evavaliangC, March 2007

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Nowadays, these are some experts argue that attitudes and behaviour, which one comes first? This topic is very important for people who are studying in Marketing, because they can easy to target the market, when they understand it. This essay will discuss this debate critically with reference to the literature in this area of consumer behaviours. Furthermore, it will give which side of the debate I agree with and explain why.

Attitudes are defined as an overall evaluation. Attitudes can vary from person to person; two people when asked what their attitudes are will give two different answers. However attitude properties stay the same. These properties include valence, extremity, resistance, persistence, and confidence. Attitudes depend on two basic factors: beliefs and feelings. As such, understanding why consumers hold certain attitudes needs examining the underlying beliefs and feelings consumers have about the attitude object.

These are some major writers' definition of the attitude.

According to Sharp (cited in Franzen 1999)"Attitude stands for a general and lasting (consistent over time) positive, neutral or negative evaluation of a person, object, institution or event. The possibilities for changing attitudes are somewhat limited. Attitudes are relatively stable: they do change but very slowly."East (1997) also gives a similar but slightly different definition to what an attitude is"What we feel about a concept, which may be a brand, category, person, an ideology or any other entity about which we can think and to which we can attach feeling. Attitudes are thus about the evaluation that we given to a specific concept; they are not like mood, which is a generalized state of being with no clear focus, and they are not thought structures with no feelings attached."(East 1997),Marketers have often used attitude first theory from the work of several psychologists and writers (LaPiere, Ajzen & Fishbein)...