The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior

The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior People take for granted the notion that attitudes influence behavior. We assume that voters’ opinions of opposing candidates predict the decisions they will make on Election Day, that consumer preferences for one product over competing prod- ucts will influence the purchases they make, and that feelings of prejudice will trigger bad acts of discrimination. Yet as sensible as these assumptions seem, the link between attitudes and behavior has proved far from perfect.


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Attitudes in Context One important condition is the level of correspondence, or similarity, between attitude measures and behavior. Perhaps the reason that LaPiere did not find a correlation between self-reported prejudice and discrimination was that he had asked proprietors about Asians in general but then observed their actions toward only one couple. To predict a single act of dis- crimination, he should have measured people’s more specific attitudes toward a young, well-dressed, attractive Chinese couple accompanied by an American professor.

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