Attitude is the psychological term for the bundle of beliefs and feelings you experience toward a person, topic, idea, etc. without having to consciously think.
Examples to get you started. Read the words below and feel your attitudes toward them (a flow of associations and feelings whizzing through):
- Chocolate Cake
How did you form these attitudes? Well for the majority of things, your Attitudes came from Actions. These Actions led to Observations which led to Explanations and then Beliefs. The things you do create your beliefs.
To give you an idea of this think about the majority of men who tend to like football. When these men were boys they may have played football with their dad. This fun interaction instigated warm feelings and associations with playing football. The actions led to attitude and therefore the liking of football.
Behaviour into attitude at the lowest level begins with impression management theory. This is where you present to your peers the person you wish to be. You signal to them through buying and displaying the sort of things which give you social capital.
For example if you are wealthy you might buy a Mercedes, Bentley or Aston Martin to portray this. If you want to appear like a gangster you wear a hoodie, tracksuit bottoms and trainers. These items you invest in then influence you to become the type of person who would own them. Why would you do this?
You invest time, money and effort into portraying yourself as you wish to be. This is critical to feel included in society. Having the feeling of being excluded (the last person to know the gossip, the person not invited out for drinks) is a painful and diminishing attack on your emotions. You are always thinking about how you appear to others, even when you are alone.
Research has shown that when you become a member of a group, a fan of a brand, the user of a product– those things have more influence on your attitudes than your attitudes have on them. This is because your attitudes are shaped by monitoring your own behaviour, not being able to identify the cause and trying to make some sense of it. You analyse a situation that has happened as if you are watching a film, or an episode of Eastenders. You watch your actions and witness your thoughts trying to understand your motivations. From this you form beliefs about yourself.
To help you better understand this, try imagining a time where you recently got frustrated with someone and reacted in a way that was unacceptable even to your standards? You could have snapped at someone on a train for having to ask them to move their bags off the seats. It could have been that you failed to ask someone at work if they would like a hot beverage when you normally do ask them. Just think back to an incident and the way you tackled the emotions of disapproval that swamped you afterwards. You relayed the scene, you watched yourself do what you did and you discouraged yourself from doing it again in the future, or encouraged yourself to be more savvy next time. You made a judgement of what happened and formed a belief that you were or weren’t that kind of person. This is known as Self Perception.
Self perception even affects your posture and the way your muscles in your face tense. All these unconscious decisions inform your perception of who you are and what you think.
So it’s time to draw this into something marketing. If your attitudes, need to be socially accepted and future opinions are based on the actions you take now or have taken, then branding and marketing need to acknowledge this. The marketing campaigns need to get you to learn to like buying their products and form attitudes after the action has taken place.
Sure companies do this already, but to understand we are all so easily manipulated makes it a pretty scary thing, right?