Over the years, many people have tried to establish a connection between behavior and attitudes. The connection between these two variables have been a product of several studies conducted by several psychologists. The findings of these researches have yielded several factors that have an impact on how the attitude of an individual will behave on a given situation. Before delving into the relationship of attitudes and behavior, it is best to come up with an operational definition of the two concepts.
Behavior is the manner in which an individual or group will respond to a certain situation. Holding protest actions is the manner militant groups will behave in order to show their dissatisfaction towards the government(FHWA). Interest on the relationship between attitude and behavior began during the time of Charles Darwin in 1872. He defined attitude as “a motor concept, or the physical expression of an emotion. ” Early psychologists view an attitude as a feeling or idea that has a behavioral attribute. They reached a consensus that attitudes should be evaluated.
During that time, social psychologists agreed that there should be consistency between attitude and behavior and that their relationship is reciprocal. Thus, if an individual has a positive attitude towards something, it can be assumed that they will have a positive behavior as well. A clear example will be one’s view of homosexuality. If their attitude towards homosexuals are favorable, then they will behave normally in their company, and vice versa(FHWA). There are several theoretical findings conducted by psychologists focusing on attitude-behavior relationships.
Theory of Reasoned Action Proposed by Fishbein and Ajzen, this theory states that when an individual behaves according to their discretion, then there is a strong relationship between the action and the behavior. To illustrate clearly, an individual planning to purchase a car has in mind several possible consequences that may result from buying the car. For example, theymight have the belief that buying the car will add to their attraction to the opposite sex or that purchasing the vehicle will carry more financial obligations. These beliefs will then have an impact on how they will behave towards the action of buying the car(FHWA).
Fishbein and Ajzen added additional determinants to the attitude-behavior relationship. the first determinant is the ability of the individual to monitor themselves. With self-monitoring, a person will adapt his behavior according to the situation they are in. Individuals who are highly skilled in self-monitoring will not show any attitude towards their behavior if they see that it is unfit for the circumstance they are in(FHWA). This theory is more applicable to people with low capacity for self-monitoring because they will likely convert their attitudes to behaviors depending on the situation they are in(FHWA).
Theory of Planned Behavior This theoretical framework is an offshoot to the theory of Fishben and Ajzen. The concept of perceived behavioral control was added in this theory. It states that attaching a high degree of control to a certain behavior will not have an effect on how an individual will respond to a certain situation. For example, if an individual attaches low control behavior to having enough sleep at night, then it will not in any way change the way an individual will behave towards the attitude(FHWA). Attitude Accessiblity Theory
According to this theory, introduced by Fazio, the strength of an attitude will vary depending on certain indexes. The strength of an attitude will be higher if the manifestation is more rapid. According to Fazio, an attitude will affect behavior if the former is available. A highly accessible attitude has a greater chance of affecting behavior. Since accessible attitudes are always available when an individual experiences a relevant concept, they can prevent themselves from being inconsistent in their behavior(FHWA).