How Beliefs and Attitude Affect Behavior.html

How Beliefs and Attitude Affect Behavior

Your attitudes and beliefs control how you receive, process, store, and then use information. Your memory has the rare ability of putting things into groups, so when you need to recall something, you first look for a general memory (or a particular category). For instance, when you hear the word “cup,” depending on your memories, you probably think of a fine porcelain cup with hand-painted flowers (which you saw in an antique showroom) or a plain brown cup (which is on your desk). If you see an incomplete picture of a cup, your brain can put together the missing parts to create a whole cup. Your brain tends to shape a general image into what you perceive it to be.

Now that you have understood how your visual memory works about naming and identifying things, let's discuss your concepts regarding attitudes and beliefs. According to Myers (2008), an attitude is "an efficient way to size up the world. When we respond quickly to something, the way we feel about it can guide how we react" (p. 120). We all have an ever-growing and evolving reservoir of memories, and the way our memories are organized helps shape and maintain our beliefs and attitudes.

See the linked document for information about our attitude toward others and how attitudes manipulate behavior.

Myers, D. (2008). Social psychology (9th ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.


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Attitude toward Others and how Attitudes Manipulate Behavior

PSY3010 Social Psychology

©2016 South University

2 Attitude toward Others and how Attitudes Manipulate Behavior

How Beliefs and Attitude affect Behavior

Attitude Toward Others

Do you think before you act? When introduced to someone, how often do you automatically perceive the person based on your attitudes and beliefs and not the person's actual characteristics? For instance, if someone introduces you to Dr. Smith, you might immediately categorize the doctor as learned and maybe having an air of wisdom and authority because of being a doctor. However, when the same person is introduced by the first name of Penelope, would you act in the same manner? The answer is probably no because you are not aware of the profession to which the person belongs and so cannot relate to your perception about the person.

Although individuals have several characteristics, your attitude toward a person is shaped by your initial meeting and the information about the person that is communicated to you. However, whatever your attitudes or beliefs about this person may be initially, you can act in a manner you have learned is appropriate. This is because as you learn more about an individual, you adjust your attitudes and act accordingly. Clearly, attitudes do not necessarily dictate your behavior.

Your attitude is, in part, a product of what you learn through your interactions with others. The sum of your experiences makes up your attitudes and beliefs. Although your attitudes and beliefs define who you are, they are always adaptable and susceptible to change, depending on your life experiences.

How Attitudes Manipulate Behavior

Who is your favorite actor? It is probably someone who can effectively play any role, from a down-and-out salesperson to a business tycoon to an alien from the world of “Lupine.” Many of us tend to consider our favorite actors our role models, believing, through their on-screen personas, they have the perfect attitude and behavior. The fact is actors are not always perfect; they sometimes must do a scene many times before they get it right. However, in our everyday lives, we really don't have the luxury of retakes. Our roles are defined by how we and others perceive we should act in each situation.

Another example to explain the effect of attitudes and beliefs on behavior would be the reality programs broadcast on television. In one such program, a group of strangers are placed in a remote location where they must compete with one another in activities, attitudes, and behavior. Although these types of shows are expected to depict reality, most of them are not real-life situations. Just because these people are not professional actors doesn't mean they are not acting. They are put into situations where they act in a manner they feel is right for those situations.

Even the classic role-playing experiment, the Stanford prison experiment (Myers, 2008), is not a real-life depiction of prisoners and correction officers. Instead, it depicts how students playing the roles of prisoners and correction officers perceive the prisoners and officers to act and behave in various situations. In all these situations, the participants don't necessarily have to change their whole persona; they just adjust their behavior according to the situation.

PSY3010 Social Psychology

©2016 South University

3 Attitude toward Others and how Attitudes Manipulate Behavior

How Beliefs and Attitude affect Behavior

References Myers, D. (2008). Social psychology (9th ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

© 2016 South University

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