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Attitude–Behavior Consistency

Nancy Rhodes


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The central question addressed by the concept of attitude–behavior consistency is whether people act in accord with their →  attitudes. In other words, does knowing a person's attitude allow one to predict that person's behavior? Our naïve theories lead us to believe that this is true: we assume that attitudes guide behavior. Although it may initially seem self-evident, the story is more complex than our intuition would suggest, and this area has been the focus of an enormous volume of research going back nearly a century. Researchers are interested in this relationship because they have a desire to use attitudes to predict how people will behave. Such predictability may be important, for example, if a car manufacturer wants to predict the strength of the market for cars using alternative fuels for the coming year. Historically, attitudes were thought to be an important topic to study because early researchers assumed that attitudes are strongly related to behavior. Thus, it was thought that attitudes would provide a good proxy to behavior: asking people how they felt about things was easier than observing them engaging in activities (→  Observation ; Survey ). However, a classic study conducted by LaPierre in the 1930s was an early demonstration that attitudes may not always coincide with actions. In this study ( LaPierre 1934 ), a survey was sent to hotel and restaurant proprietors ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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