Attitudes Attitudes From

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From intentions to actions

                       Gabriela Ilie, Ph.D.
                     University of Toronto
Attitudes vs. Intentions

   Which one is a better predictor of behavior?
   Intention: committing to acting in a certain
    way, or engaging in a particular behavior's)
   The disposition most closely linked to a
    specific action tendency is the intention to
    perform the action under consideration
    (e.g., Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Fisher and
    Fisher, 1992)
From Intentions to action

   Many studies have substantiated the
    predictive validity of behavioral intentions.
    – Examples:                  Intention-behaviour correlation
          Donating blood                .75   (Giles & Cairns, 1995)
          Using homeopathic medicine    .75   (Furnham & Lovett, 2001)
          Attending church              .90   (King, 1975)
          Having an abortion            .96   (Smetana & Adler, 1980)
From Intentions to action

   Intentions are close antecedents of
    overt action.
    – The predictive validity of intentions is
      typically found to be significantly greater
      than that of attitudes toward the
From Intentions to action

   Manstead, Proffitt and Smart (1983)
    – How much can we predict mother’s feeding
      method (either a or b) based on their attitudes
      toward a) breast feeding, or b) bottle feeding of
      newborn infants. Correlation of 0.67.
    – Mother’s intentions towards these alternative
      feeding practices has a correlation of .82 with
      the feeding method the mothers ended up using.
   Ajzen et al. (1982)
    – How likely are you to smoke marijuana in
      the next 3 to 4 weeks?
    – Asked by telephone four weeks later they
      indicated whether they smoked m or not?
    – The self report of m use correlated
      .72 with intentions, and correlated .53
      with the students’ attitudes towards
      smoking m.

   Indeed, intentions can accurately predict a
    variety of corresponding action tendencies.
   At the same time, research has also
    revealed considerable variability in the
    magnitude of observed correlations, and
    also relatively low intention-behavior
    correlations have been observed.
    (hmmm…cognitive dissonance?)
Intention-behavior incompatibility

   Measuring something general with specifics
    of that behaviour
   For example: Kerner and Grossman, 1998,
    measured the correlation between people’s
    intention to exercises over a 5 month
    period with their behaviour (e.g. climbing
    stairs or lifting weights – notice v. specific).
   Correlation: r = 0.21, very low…
   Why?
   A compatible measure of intention
    would have asked participants to
    indicate the extent to which they
    intended to engage in the particular
    prescribed exercise behaviour in the
    next 5 months.
How stable are our intentions

   Some studies measured people’s intentions
    6 months before they engaged in the
   Why is this a potential issue?
   Intentions change over time.
   E.g voting campaign. Something happens
    with the candidate, a scandal story gets
    publicized and people’s intentions change.
Cognitive dissonance

   Even when behaviour meet the
    criterion of compatibility and when the
    measure of intention is relatively
    stable over time, people still
    sometimes say they will do something
    and end up doing something else.
   This is described in your textbook as
    the literal inconsistency.
   According to Campbell (1963) people
    with moderate dispositions tend to
    display behaviors consistent with the
    disposition when the behaviors are
    easy to perform (e.g. express an
    intention to exercise) but not when
    they are difficult to perform (e.g.
    actually engage in exercise).
Campbell (1963)

   Moderate disposition explanation

    B    Moderate           Strong prejudice
    E    prejudice
    V    Weak
    I    prejudice

           Letter                  Face-to-face

 Remember LaPierre’s (1934) study with the Chinese couple?
   Implementation intentions
        “How come you didn’t do what you said you
         will do? “
        “Oh well… I forgot”

        “Gee.. It slipped my mind!”

    – Having people state when, where and how
      they will carry out their intentions can
      greatly increase the likelihood that they
      will do so.
   The case of incomplete volitional
    – The degree of success to attain a specific
      behavior, depends not only on the
      person’s intentions, but also:
        On such factors as inherent abilities
        Physiological dispositions

        Availability of requisite opportunities and
   External factors:
    – Opportunity
    – Dependence on others

   Internal factors:
    – Information, skill, and abilities
    – Emotions and compulsions
Video clip
– choosing experiences moment to
Video clip - entanglement
Video clip – Washington DC
Video clip – intention
inconsistencies…like positive thinking

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