assignment Knowledge of attitudes is very crucial to a marketer. Attitudes provide information that can be used to evaluate marketing
actions i.e. how to choose and segment markets?
At the end of the session you should be able to:
Understand attitude formation.
Attitude behaviour relationship
assignment An attitude can be defined as “a predisposition to respond in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given object”.
Four main elements emerge from this definition:
Attitudes are learned: They are not innate we develop them as we grow up.
Predisposition to respond: Attitudes cannot be seen. The existence of attitudes is indicated by the manner in which we behave.
Consistently favourable or unfavourable: Attitudes can be seen as an organising mechanism within us that help us to respond to a given situation/s consistently (either favourably or unfavourably) over a period of time.
Attitudes are aimed towards an object.
There are three components of Attitudes:
Cognitive or knowledge
These components can be directly linked to adoption models. There are a number of such models but we are considering two that have been frequently used.
AIDA model Hierarchy of
Attention Cognitive Awareness
Desire Affective Preference
Action Conative Purchase
Cognitive stage also known as the knowledge component is the phase when consumers learn about new products; their characteristics, their functions and so on. Followed by this stage is the evaluative phase. After learning about a product, consumers in this component evaluate products and form an opinion about them i.e. either a liking or a disliking. The last component is where a definitive action is taken by consumers either an act of purchase or rejection.
Functions of Attitudes:
The adjustive function: People act in a way as to maximise their reward and minimise their discomfort. Products that offer satisfaction after use are repurchased and products that do not offer any satisfaction are discarded.
Value – expressive function: This function allows individuals to express themselves by projecting their self-values.
Knowledge function: This function is based on an individual’s desire to learn and understand his/her environment.
Ego – defensive function: This function allows individuals to protect themselves from their environment by hiding their basic desires that may be socially unacceptable.
There are mainly two theoretical orientations.
Tripartite view of attitudes
The unidimensionalist approach
Tripartite viewpoint: Attitudes are seen as a combination of three components, Cognitive, Affective and Conative.
Unidemsionalist viewpoint: The three basic components mentioned above are also relevant but not in the same manner. Affect component is seen as the actual attitude. Cognitive element is viewed as a precursor and Conative element is a consequence.
Theories of Attitudes formation:
Learning theory: The principle of Classical and Operant learning may be used to explain this theory.
Consistency theory: This is based on the principle that we all strive for consistency in life. Inconsistencies cause stress and therefore we all aim to eliminate stress by trying to balance our attitudes.
Development of theories:
As stated earlier attitudes are not innate they are formed as a part of growing up. There are several factors that determine their formation
Parental influences: The first and foremost influence therefore, comes from our parents. Followed by Peer influences i.e. our friends. Information that we may collect using other sources such as television, radio etc may also influence attitudes. Education is another significant factor in attitude formation. Studies indicate that educated people tend to be more liberal.
Can attitudes be changed?
Some attitudes are very strongly rooted and stay stable over a period of time and therefore are difficult to change whereas others are more weakly held and may be changeable using various techniques
Sources of the message:
Credibility, Attractiveness, Power of the person delivering the message will strongly affect attitudes. For instance; if a dentist instructs a group of children the significance of brushing twice a day at least they would respond to this suggestion more than those made by their mother.
Because a dentist is seen as being more credible than a mum.
Another example that provides some evidence towards this comes from advertisements that use celebrities to convey their message. This is based on the understanding that if people like the source (i.e. the celebrity) they may like the product that he/she is promoting. Similarly a person who is seen as being in power will be in a position to change or influence attitudes of people around him/her.
Message contents can also influence attitudes. Messages indicating some sort of suggestion, appeals to fear, one-sided vs. two-sided message etc.
Advertisers may use some sort of suggestion (for instance, prestige) in their message based on the hope that people would accept it and change accordingly.
Appeals to fear:
This method relies on generating fear amongst their customers and provide them with a way out of a potentially scary situation. For instance, ‘you should brush your teeth twice a day otherwise you may risk loosing them’. Brushed everyday with Colgate, Signal (or any brand-name) would avoid that situation.
One Vs. two-sided appeals:
One –sided appeals refer to advertisers concentrating on positive aspects of their products only whereas two sided appeals involve presenting both aspects: positive and negative. “A general rule, however, fairly summarises the findings: A one-sided approach is effective when people are either neutral or already favourable to the message; a two-sided approach is likely to win converts from opposing point of view (1979 Morgan, King and Robinson).
Factors related to Consumers:
These could be significant force in changing attitudes such as needs, selective perception/ avoidance of information and susceptibility.
Needs, Selective perception/Avoidance of information:
How effective a message is will depend on what people’s needs are. If people have a need for a particular message they will choose to respond to it (selective perception) and evaluate it. In this case, as mentioned earlier consideration of one and two-sided approaches becomes very crucial. But it may be possible that people decide to ignore the incoming message that they have no need for or does not agree with their attitudes.
Some people are easier to influence than others therefore are more likely to be persuaded thereby resulting in an attitude change.
Self –Report Method: People are required to answer questions.
A number of attitude scales are available such as semantic differential, likert scale where people are given alternatives and they are asked to choose their position on a continuum.
A semantic differential scale would use the following format:
What do you think of product A?
Tastes nice Does not taste nice
Creamy Not creamy
Light Not light
A likert scale would use the following format:
assignment a series of statements related to the attitude in question would be presented to the respondents such as
Product A is expensive
Product A is tastes nice
Product A has real creamy flavour
Product A is light and fluffy
Respondent will be expected to indicate their position regarding these statements on a five point scale such as
Strongly agrees - Disagree
Agree - Strongly disagree.
Neither agree or disagree
Observing behaviour of people of interest. This could be done using mechanical instruments that measure changes in diameter of the pupil of the eye or sweating of hand.
Self –Test Questions
What key elements of attitudes are highlighted in the definition.
What are the main components of attitudes?
What factors influence change?
What are theories of attitudes?