social attitude

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Attitude Change (Essay & Concept Map)
ABSTRACT: In order to accomplish effective attitude change certain elements of the attitude itself must be addressed. An attitude has three components: a mental component, behavioural component and an emotional component. Effective attitude change programs include methods and tools which appeal to these components of the attitude.

Attitude Change

According to psychologists Egley and Chaiken (1993) attitudes are a psychological or internal state made known through viewing an entity with approval or disapproval. Attitudes (Larson, 2007) have a cognitive function, an affective (or emotional) function and a behavioural function. That is, attitudes are learned, they can be affected or driven by feelings and they can be indicators of future actions. Attitude change programs are programs designed to address and remove harmful attitudes and replace them with beneficial attitudes. Social change programs are programs which address attitudes on a societal level. Some examples include cancer screening, drink driving and anti-smoking campaigns. According to Fazio (1989), attitudes are triggered automatically which suggests that attitude change needs to be dealt with in a strategic manner. The cognitive, affective and behavioural functions of an attitude need to be addressed within attitude change programs in order for them to be a success. This essay aims to provide the theoretical basis and research evidence of three key elements required for attitude change and for success in attitude change programs. These three elements are based on the functions of an attitude and include an appeal to an individual’s reasoning and beliefs, an appeal to an individual’s feelings or emotions, and an appeal to an individual’s current and future actions.

The first element or factor of success required for an attitude change program is an appeal to the individual’s reasoning and belief. Attitudes have a cognitive function and individuals develop attitudes based on their experience, learned values and personal thoughts and ideas. Attitude change programs need to appeal to a person’s thinking. Research completed by Schrader (1999) found that attitudes are less likely to change if the information and message presented to influence the individual’s thinking is too complex or ambiguous. If information is presented in this way the individual will dismiss the ideas as unworkable and inappropriate. It can be suggested then that as attitude change programs appeal to a person’s intellect or thinking concerning a particular attitude, it is required that the information is concise, relevant, meaningful and understandable. For example, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (2007) implemented a societal attitude change program called the National Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign. The campaign ran successfully from November 2006 until February 2007. The campaign used media releases including television, printed and radio advertisements. The campaign made the information of the risk of skin cancer meaningful and concise as the main header for the awareness was a real life story of an Australian citizen. According to Manfredo (1992) information presented in an attitude change campaign must also be an argument that is relevant to the individual. The National Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign achieved relevance to the Australian public as it appealed to the summer climate and encouraged Australians in certain steps that were already a practical part of Australian summer living. These included wearing a hat, protective clothing and sunglasses, seeking shade and wearing water proof, SPF30+ sunscreen and reapplying every two hours.

Attitudes have an affective or emotional function. That is, they can be affected and changed according to an individual’s feelings. Often attitude change programs attempt to create a message that will engage a viewer or listener’s emotions....
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