Concept of Attitude Change

Attitude change occurs by two processes

  • One in which individuals respond to vari­ous superficial cues or heuristics in the situation.
  • One in which attitude-relevant information is generated and processed.

Thus, these approaches can be conceptualized within a framework of organizing, categorizing, and understanding the basic processes underlying atti­tude change. The first is attitude change that occurs as a result of a person’s careful and thoughtful consider­ation of the merits of the information presented in support of a backing. The second is that occurring as a result of some simple cue that induces change without necessitating scrutiny of the merits of issue-relevant information.

This concept highlights that attitudes are multiply determined and that attitudes whose verbal expression is similar may have different ante­cedents and consequences. Individuals might be motivated gen­erally to hold correct attitudes, the numerous stimuli that individuals must evaluate daily, coupled with their limited time and cognitive resources, which forces them to use cognitively less demanding short-cuts (e.g., simple cues, habits, rules-of-thumbs) to guide attitudinal reactions.

They do not have the luxury of adopting only those attitude positions about which they have had the time and opportunity to research if they are going to be able to venture into novel situations or respond to the myriad stimuli to which they are exposed each day.

Spontaneous Attitude Change

Thinking about an attitude object tends to make the attitude more extreme. We review and rehearse our beliefs, and consistency pressures move them toward more evaluatively consistent clusters.

Thinking about an issue produces more polarized attitudes because thinking allows people to generate more consistent attitudes.

All this cognitive activity requires that the individual have a preconceived structure, or schema, concerning the person or issue. Without some schematic understanding of the issue, it is difficult for a person to generate new-beliefs or to know how to reinterpret old ones.

The implication is that thought polarizes attitudes only when people have a schema about the issue.

To polarize attitudes, people’s thoughts must be relevant to the issue, the people must have sufficient cognitive resources, and there must be no alternative issues competing for attention.

Primacy and Recency effect in Attitude Change

When trying to change the attitude of the people, by using print or TV ads, often consider primacy effect and recency effect are considered.

The primacy effect occurs when the message presented first creates greater opinion or attitude change. But if the message arguments presented last produce greater opinion or attitude change, it is recency effect.

Both primacy and recency effects work at different times. There are advertisers who believe either in primacy or the recency effect and accordingly decide about the message order or the ad placement.

Information presented at the beginning (primacy effect) or at the end (recency effect) of a message tends to be noticed and remembered more.

However, such order effects are mainly applicable to messages that tend to be lengthy and the people get tired of processing all the information encountered.

The primacy and recency effect is greatly reduced when individuals are exposed to shorter messages or when the message is compatible with their interests and hence they are motivated to elaborate upon the entire message.

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