When Are Attitudes Good Predictors Of Behaviour

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attitudes good predictors of behaviour Attitudes are responses to events, people or objects which includes an evaluative component of the situation for example pleasant-unpleasant, harmful-beneficial (Ajzen 1988). Attitudes have been studied because they are associated with experience and may influence behaviour. Behaviour can be predicted if the associated attitudes are understood, or changed if attitudes can change. Therefore, understanding attitudes can be useful to social investigators for ?consumer? behaviour or health related behaviours.

Previous assumptions about attitudes have been that they serve as behavioural predispositions, however, studies such as LaPiere (1934, cited in Hogg & Vaughan 1998) have shown different. LaPiere travelled around the USA with two Chinese friends to different restaurants and hotels. Six months later he sent out questionnaires to the establishments asking if they would accept Chinese guests. Results showed 92% would not accept members of the Chinese race, but during the travelling only 1 out of 250 establishments actually refused entry to LaPiere.

This showed that the prejudiced attitudes were not predictive of the actual behaviour, there was a clear difference between expressed attitude and actual behaviour. Other research such as Wicker (1969, same source) found correlations between attitudes and behaviour was usually low, between .15 and .30. Corey (1937, cited in Ajzen & Fishbein 1980) found students gave negative attitudes towards cheating in tests, but some would still perform the behaviour and cheat given the opportunity.

Previous evidence seemed to show attitudes did not predict behaviour, however attitudes may still influence behaviour under certain conditions that do not involve any conscious awareness or processing, such as automatic actions.

Automaticity refers to constructing attitudes automatically, running on ?auto-pilot? and how these direct behaviour. According to Fazio (1995) automatic activation occurs when attitudes come to mind unavoidably and without any effort. Attitudes are an object-evaluation association that...