Attitudes and Attitude Change

24 Key Terms and Concepts

ABCs of Attitudes: The three components to an attitude are, A=Affect (how we feel about something); B=Behaviour (how we act towards something); and C=Cognition (what we think about something).Attitudes: The positive or negative, long-lasting evaluations we have regarding people and things.

Balance theory: Fritz Heider’s Balance Theory is a framework that can predict attitude and behavioural change. In marketing, this framework demonstrates the importance of consistency (balance) within the triad, and how consumers will seek to harmonize their values, beliefs, and perceptions when they experience cognitive inconsistencies.

Central route to persuasion: This aspect of the Elaboration Likelihood Model identifies that messages requiring extensive mental processing are more likely to result in long-term attitude changes, especially with an audience who is motivated and highly involved with the subject/topic.

Cognitive dissonance: A type of cognitive inconsistency, this term describes the discomfort consumers may feel when their beliefs, values, attitudes, or perceptions are inconsistent or contradictory to their original belief or understanding. Consumers with cognitive dissonance related to a purchasing decision will often seek to resolve this internal turmoil they are experiencing by returning the product or finding a way to justify it and minimizing their sense of buyer’s remorse.

Descriptive norms: While norms give us a sense of how we might behave in accordance with society, descriptive norms refer to our perception of how people actually behave.

Elaboration likelihood model: This models examines two different ways persuasion can be achieved (central route; peripheral route) depending on how motivated the audience is by the message and how much thinking (mental processing) needs to be done with respect to the contents of the message.

Halo effect: When we experience one positive trait about a person we may assume other positive features or traits as well.

Match-up hypothesis: The degree to which a source and a brand are objectively perceived as a “good match” because the source’s image and the brand’s position are a good fit and logically aligned.

Multi-attribute attitude model: This model provides a framework that can be used to measure consumers’ attitudes towards specific products or services. The model identifies how consumer attitudes are informed by measuring and evaluating the attitudes of a product; the beliefs about those attributes; and the relative importance we give those attributes.

Norms: Norms can be considered unspoken rules that members of a society follow because they represent what is good and/or right and they inform us on how we should behave.

Peripheral route to persuasion: This aspect of the Elaboration Likelihood Model identifies that messages requiring minimal mental processing result in short-term attitude changes, especially with an audience who is not motivated and has low involvement with the subject/topic.

Persuasion: In marketing, persuasion is seen a process of creating messages that will change the beliefs, attitudes, and/or behaviours of a target audience (e.g. consumers).

Principle of attitude consistency: This theory comes into effect when there is strong alignment among the ABC’s of attitude: the relationship between what we feel (A), think (C), and how we act (B) are consistent and in close relation to one another.

Self-determination theory: This theory examines how our motivations and personality (internalized factors) inform our attitudes and behaviour in the absence of external influences (e.g. subjective norms, which contrasts the theory of planned behaviour).

Social norms: Accepted informal group rules and standards that guide our behaviour. Social norms generalize the accepted way of thinking, feeling, and behaving in a way that our groups support.

Source: In marketing, the source is often depicted as a spokesperson or representative of a brand or company and responsible for communicating messages about the brand to consumers.

Source attractiveness: The perceived social value of the source.

Source credibility: The perceived objectivity and trustworthiness of a source.

Star power: This term speaks to the influence celebrities (and other types of famous people, such as athletes) have on our consumer decision making. A brand that is promoted and represented by a well-known (and adored celebrity), consumers who have a positive attitude towards that celebrity are more likely to believe in the brand as well.

Subjective norms: The belief that you have the support and approval of the people important to you to carry out an action or behave in a particular way.

Theory of planned behaviour: This theory suggests that our deep beliefs and values play a pivotal role in creating our attitudes and predicting our behaviour. When we combine a strong attitude with subjective norms and with our belief that we can perform a particular behaviour, these three things will predict our actual behaviour.

Warm-glow effect: The personal satisfaction we feel in engaging in “good acts” that help others. This effect may explain why some people behave altruistically (in charity of others) but it fails to capture the extent of the impact our actions have on others (e.g. whether or not our actions are meaningful and long-lasting). For this reason, warm-glow may be described as a sort of “selfish pleasure”.


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Introduction to Consumer Behaviour Copyright © by Andrea Niosi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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