Teaching Tip Sheet: Attitudes and Behavior Change
Lisa Bowleg, PhD
APA, >= 1995
The study of attitudes has had a long and preeminent history in the field of social psychology (Eagly, 1992; Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).
The topic of attitudes is intrinsically appealing to psychologists and non-psychologists alike; we all hold attitudes about many different abstract (e.g., ideologies such as democracy and liberalism) and concrete (e.g., people, places, and things) attitude objects.
Attitudes are “psychological tendencies that are expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor” (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993, p. 1).
Although research on attitudes is dispersed among many topics such as the measurement of attitudes, the structures of attitudes and beliefs, and theories of attitude formation and change, research on the relationship between attitudes and behavior has consistently been one of the most prominent and debatable topics in the field of social psychology (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).
Intuitively, the association between a person’s attitudes and her or his behavior makes sense.
However, contemporary research on attitudes has empirically demonstrated that attitudes correlate most reliably with behaviors when an aggregate of attitudes is related to an aggregate of attitude-relevant behaviors; and when a single attitude is related to a single attitude-relevant behavior (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).