Social attitudes and behaviourLevel IDr. M. Mathai
IntroductionAttitudes and behaviour are an important aspect of health care particularly primary health care where Health professionals try to change peoples behaviour- from unhealthy to healthyAssessing for (Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) or Knowledge, Attitude and Behaviour (KAB) is an important excercise in Community health as it generates baseline data in communities where there is a desire to initiate change
Introduction IIAttitude is defined as a predisposition to classify objects and events and to react to them with some degree of evaluative consistency Attitudes can also be said to be Beliefs and feelings about others or about events and the inclination to actAttitudes influence how we perceive and interpret events
Introduction IIDo attitudes determine behaviour ?Is what we are inside related to who we are outside (what we do) ?Do our private beliefs and feelings determine our public behaviour?
How often are we hypocrites- does a students attitude towards cheating a predictor of likelyhood to cheat in exams?Does changing attitude change behaviour?
Attitude and external influencesOur expressed attitude does not always predict behaviour because both our attitudes and our behaviour are subject to other external influencesAttitude- We sometimes say what we think others want to hearBehaviour- we sometimes do what others expect us to doA good reason for secret ballot
Strengthening the predictability of behaviour from attitudeThe effects of attitude on behaviour becomes more reliable when one considers behaviour over a long period of timeMinimising on external influences will increase prediction of behaviour from attitudeAttitude predicts behaviour when the attitude is more pertinent to behaviour- eg. A belief that running is a good way to increase fittness has better predictability for jogging as opposed to general concept of healthy living
Attitude potencyAttitude predicts behaviour when it is potent- present in the concious- thought outSome behaviour is based on scripts- common daily behaviour- how are you?,- fine; how was school?-Ok In the abscence of a script behaviour is less automatic has to be thought out.
Self conciousness and self awareness is being in tune with your attitudes- people with little self awareness are more likely to be influenced by mobs
To thine own self be true- Shakespeare
Passive or active attitudesAttitudes acquired through experience are more potent and more predictive of behaviour- people who have been directly involved in a crisis are more likely to sign pettitions to change things as opposed to those who know about the crisis theoretically
Unconcious attitudesEthnic prejudice is one of the areas strongly governed by unconciously held attitudes. Unconcious attitudes can also influence spontaneuos behaviour- walking thru a dark alley
Does behaviour influence attitudeWe stand up for what we believe but do we also believe in what we stand up for?The power of self persuasion- inventing a reason for our behaviour Acting into a role- the career you choose will affect not only what you do on the job but also your attitudes internalised roles
Power of the wordWe believe what we say and the more we say it the more we believe itSaying is believing
A foot in the door phenomenon-Small changes make way for bigger changes- immunising in small dosesWhen people commit themselves voluntarily to social action they tend to believe in what they are doingThis phenomenon is used actively to get people involvedTime and participationSales and marketing Petitions and fundraisingDating
Influence of Immoral behaviour, acts of aggression and attitudePeople tend not only to hurt those they believe are bad but alo to believe and say they hate people they hurt, to justify acts of agression.Nazi regime atrocities- were often explained by the perpetrators as being because they hated jews even when they had never had prior contact
The more one commits attrocities the easier it gets.Giving a drerogatory name to your victim makes it easierThe victims are seen as having traits that justify the action taken against themEvil acts are not only a reflection of the self they shape the self
Influence of Moral acts on attitudeMoral action when chosen affects moral thinkingDoing something good out of choice, having thought about, it has a longer lasting impact on the way you behave than being threatened to do a good thing.
Actions feed attitudesShould one wait for attitudes to change or??- Through preaching and teaching or force behaviour through legislation- Example legislation against Female genital mutilationDoes positive behaviour towards someone foster liking that person?
Actions feed attitudes: Social movementsPolitical socialisation and building patriotism through action- raising flag, singing a national anthem, party symbolsPsychic equilibrium is achieved by believing what you are sayingBrain washing- thought control- Brave new world
Believing what you are saying- brain washingAlpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they are frightfully clever. Im really awfully glad Im a beta, because I dont work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They are wear green and Delta children wear Khaki. Oh no, I dont want to play with Delta children and Epsilons are still worse. They are too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides, they wear Black, which is such a beastly colour. I am so glad Im a Beta.- Aldous Huxley. Brave New World (1931)
Action to attitudes theoriesSocial psychologists explain the effect of actions on attitude using 3 main theories Self presentation theories- assumes that we express attitudes that make us appear consistent
Cognitive disonance theory assumes that to reduce discomfort we justify our actions to ourselvesSelf perception theory assumes that our actions are self revealing- we look at our actions/ behaviour and explain our feelings and beliefs on this basis the same way we do for other people
ConclusionIf you want to change yourself dont wait for insight and inspiration or the right moment, start acting the way you want to be. At first it may seem to you like pretending but pretend long enough and you will be who you are pretending to be.
ReferencesDavid G. Myers- Social psychology- 4th edition, McGraw- Hill Inc 1983Lester M. Sdorow- Psychology- 2nd edition, Brown and Benchmark 1993