Attitude Theories Attitudes are our positive and negative evaluation of a situation or object. Attitudes can be divided into three distinct components the cognitive, affective and the behavioral. They may take the form of the implicit attitude, explicit attitude and the dual attitude. The components of attitudes are the cognitive which helps people structure the world to make sense to them, the affective which helps people cope with emotional conflicts and the behavior helps people achieve rewards and gain approval from others.
One way that attitudes can be formed is through the classical conditioning theory. Classical conditioning is “learning through association when a neutral conditioned stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus that naturally produces an emotional response” (Franzoi 2010,p. 157). Classical Conditioning is the affective component of attitudes. An example of classical conditioning would be “the soft click of the switch that turns on a noisy bathroom fan would have little effect on your behavior.
After the click a conditioned has been paired with a loud noise an unconditioned on several occasions you might begin to react to the click alone conditioned response” (Bacon and Kalsher, 2008, p. 161). Another example would be the famous study the dogs salivating at the saw or smelled food but not tasted it. Then they salivated at the sight the person bringing the food. Classical conditioning can be very useful in helping in the learning in shaping attitudes to protect us from overcoming certain fears in life and also help acquire aversion to certain foods.
Classical conditioning is a gradual process. Using this conditioning can help shape, form different attitudes in many of life situations. Classical conditioning of attitudes occurs below the level of conscious awareness. The other very influential way to shape attitude is the Operant conditioning form of learning. Through the behavioral component (Franzoi, 2010, p. 158). The Operant conditioning is a type of learning attitudes in which behavior is strengthened if followed by reinforcement maintain, changed and weaken if ollowed by punishment through consequences. Operant conditioning occurs when some action towards an object is rewarded or reinforced. Doing this enough times, the subject will do probably repeat it in the future. Also if behavior is not rewarded or is punished then future actions are less likely to occur. An example of a positive operant conditioning would be related to basic biological needs. Positive reinforcement include food when you are angry and conditioned reinforces include money, status, trophies and praises from others.
When we hear” you must clean your room before you watch TV” (Bacon and Kalsher, 2008, p. 172). This can shape a person’s attitude. A negative example of this “stimuli, other subway riders are moving away to escape the stench of a person’s cologne” (Bacon and Kalsher, 2008, p. 173). When people ride in the future they will remember that person and avoid them. This would definitely shape one’s attitude towards this person. Doing well will help shape attitude about eating habits. Since, they did not have a good experience with bad situations that will also shape attitudes.
We can use the operant conditioning in teaching techniques such as learning computers, aggressive driving, traffic safety and all goal oriented tasks. In conclusion we have discussed how attitudes can take form. They shape through the implicit attitude form which is activated automatically from our memory or through the explicit attitude which is consciously held. These attitudes are seen in classical, operant conditioning. References Bacon, R. and Kalsher, M, (2008). Psychology: From Science to Practice 2nd Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon Franoi, S. (2010). Social Psychology 5th Ed.
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