Does Behavior always follow from Attitudes? We have maintained that attitude affects behavior. Early research on attitudes assumed that they were causally related to behavior; that is, the attitude that people hold determines what they do. Common sense, too, suggests a relationship. Isn’t it logical that people watch television programs that they say they like or that employees try to avoid assignments they find distasteful. However, in the late 1960s, this assumed relationships between attitude and behavior was challenged by a review of the research.
Based on an evaluation of a number of studies that investigated the attitudes-behavior relationship, the reviewer concluded that the attitudes were unrelated to behavior or at best, only slightly related. More recent research has demonstrated that attitudes significantly predict future behavior and confirmed original thinking that the relationships can be enhanced by taking moderating variables into account. Moderating Variables:
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The most powerful moderators of the attitudes behavior relationships have been found to be importance of the attitude,its specificity, its accessibility, whether there exist social pressures, and whether a person has direct experience with theattitude. Important attitudes are ones that reflect fundamental values, self-interest, or identification with individuals orgroups that a person values. Attitudes that individuals consider important tend to show a strong relationship to behavior. The more specific the attitude and the more specific the behavior, the stronger is the link between the two.
For instanceasking someone specifically about his/her intention to stay with the organization for the next 6 months is likely to betterpredict turnover for that person than if you asked him/her how satisfied he/she was with his/her pay. Attitudes that are easily remembered are more likely to predict behavior than attitudes that are not accessible in memory. Interestingly you are more likely to remember attitudes that are frequently expressed. So the more you talk about your attitude on a subject, the more you are likely to remember it, and the more likely it is to shape your behavior.
Discrepancies between attitude and behavior are more likely to occur when social pressures to behave in certain ways hold exceptional power. This tends to characterize behavior in organizations. This may explain why an employee who holds strong anti-union attitudes attend pro-union organizing meetings; or why tobacco executives, who are not smokers themselves and who tend to believe the research linking smoking and cancer, don’t actively discourage others from smoking in their offices.
Finally, the attitude-behavior relationship is likely to be much stronger if an attitude refers to something with which the individual has direct personal experience. Asking college students with no significant work experience how they would respond to working for an authoritarian supervisor is far less likely to predict actual behavior than asking that same question of employees who have actually worked for such an individual. Self-Perception Theory:
Although most attitudes-behavior studies yield positive results, researchers have achieved still higher correlations bypursuing another direction-looking at whether or not behavior influences attitudes. This view, called self-perceptiontheory, has generated some encouraging findings. Let’s briefly review the theory. When asked about an attitude toward some object, individuals often recall their behavior relevant to that object and then infer their attitude from their past behavior.
So if an employee was asked her feelings about being a training specialist at Marriott, she would likely think, “I’ve had this same job with Marriott as a trainer for 10 years. Nobody forced me to stay on this job. So I must like it”. Self-perception theory, therefore, argues that attitudes are used, after the fact, to make sense out of an action that has already occurred rather than as devices that precede and guide action. And contrary to cognitive dissonance theory, attitudes are just casual verbal statements.
When they are asked about their attitudes and they don’t have strong convictions or feelings, self-perception theory says they tend to create plausible answers. — 1. Managers need to focus on employees’ behaviors not on attitudes. We presume that good employees are good because of their attitudes so we try to change the attitudes of our unsuccessful employees. Successful employees have good attitiudes it is not the other way around.
I’ve never heard a manager say about an employee, “He is a problem employee, his behavior on the job isterrible, but I love his attitude so I am going to keep him around even though office morale is dropping likestone. ” It is all about behavior. Bob Main Components of Attitudes After various research projects by HR experts in the field it is assumed that attitudes have three components:cognition, affect and behavior. Let’s look at each of these components. The belief that ‘discrimination is wrong’ is anevaluative statement.
Such an opinion is the cognitive component of an attitude. It sets the stage for the more critical ofan attitude – its affective component. Affect is the emotional or feeling segment of an attitude and is reflected in thestatement ‘I don’t like John because he discriminates against minorities’. Affect can lead to behavioral outcomes. Thebehavioral component of an attitude refers to an intention to behave in a certain way toward someone or something. So,to continue with the above example, ‘I might choose to avoid John because of my feelings about him’.
Viewing attitudes as made up of three components – cognition, affect, and behavior – is helpful in understanding their complexity and the potential relationship between attitudes and behavior. Keep in mind that these components are closely related. In particular, in many ways cognition and affect are inseparable. For example, imagine that you concluded that someone had just treated you unfairly. Aren’t you likely to have feelings about that, occurring virtually instantaneously with the thought? Thus, cognition ad affect are intertwined.
In this example, an employee didn’t get a promotion he thought he deserved; a coworker got it instead. The employee’s attitude toward his supervisor is illustrated as follows: cognition (the employee though he deserved the promotion), affect (the employee strongly dislikes his supervisor), and behavior (the employee is looking for another job). As we previously noted, although we often think that cognition causes affect then causes behavior, in reality these components are often difficult to separate. In organizations, attitudes are important because of their behavioral component.
If worker believes, for example, thatsupervisors, auditors, bosses and time-and-motion engineers are all in conspiracy to make employees work harder forthe same or less money sense to try to understand how these attitudes were formed, their relationship to actual jobbehavior and how they might be changed. How Consistent are Attitudes? Did you notice how people change what they say so it doesn’t contradict what they do? Perhaps a friend of yours has consistently argued that the quality of American cars isn’t up to the import brand and that he would never own anything but Japanese or German car.
But his dad gives him a late-model Ford Mustang, and suddenly American cars aren’t so bad. Or, when going through sorority rush, a new freshman believes that sororities are good and that pledging sorority is important. If she fails to make a sorority however, she may say, I recognized that sorority life isn’t all, it’s cracked up to be anyway. Research has generally concluded that people seek consistency among their attitudes and between their attitudes and their behavior. This means that individuals seek to reconcile divergent attitudes and align their attitudes and behavior so they appear rational and consistent.
When there is an inconsistency, forces are initiated to return the individual to an equilibrium state in which attitudes and behavior are again consistent. This can be done by altering either the attitudes or the behavior, or by developing a rationalization for the discrepancy. Tobacco executives provide an example. How, you might wonder, do these people cope with the ongoing barrage if data linking cigarette smoking and negative health outcomes? They can deny that any clear causation between smoking and cancer for instance, has been established. They can brainwash themselves by continually articulating the benefits of tobacco.
They can acknowledge the negative consequences of smoking but rationalize that people are going to smoke and that tobacco companies merely promote freedom of choice. They can accept the research evidence and begin actively working to make more healthy cigarettes or at least reduce their availability to more vulnerable groups, such as teenagers. Lastly, they can quit their job because the dissonance is too great 128 / 176 C, Vedigounder Colony, Thiruvagoundanoor Bye Pass, Salem 636 005 Phone : 0427 6532870 Mobile : 98427 33318 Email:[email protected] com Web site:www. helikx. com Behavior modification
Continuous reinforcement schedules can lead to early satiation, and under this schedule behavior tends toweaken rapidly when reinforcers are withheld. However, continuous reinforcers are appropriate for newly emitted,unstable, or low-frequency responses. In contrast intermittent reinforces preclude early satiation because they don’tfollow every response. They are appropriate for stable or high-frequency responses. In general, variable schedules tend to lead to higher performance than fixed schedules. For example as noted previously, most employees in organization are paid on fixed-interval schedules.
By such a schedule does not clearly link performance and rewards. The reward is given or time spent on the job rather than for a specific response (performance). In contrast, variable interval schedules generate high rates of response and more stable and consistent behavior because of a high correlation between performance and reward and because of the uncertainty involved – the employee tends to be more alert because there is a surprise factor. There is a now classic study that took place a number of years ago with freight packers at Emery Air Freight (now part of FedEx).
Emery’s management wanted packers to use freight containers for shipments whenever possible because of specific economic savings. Then packers were asked about the percentage of shipments contained the standard reply was 90 percent. An analysis by Emery found however, that the actual container utilization rate was only 45 per cent. In order to encourage employees to use containers, management established a program of feedback and positive reinforcement. Each packet was instructed to keep a checklist of daily packings, both containerized and non- containerized.
At the end of each day, the packer computed the container utilization rate. Almost unbelievable Container utilization jumped to more than 90 per cent on the first day of the program and held at that level. Emery reported that this simple program of feedback and positive reinforcement saved the company $2 million over a 3 year period. This program at Emery Air Freight illustrates the use of behavior modification, or what has become more popularly called OB Mod. It represents the application of reinforcement concepts to individuals in the work setting.
The typical OB Mod program follows a five step problem solving model: (1) identifying critical behaviors; (2) developing baseline data; (3) identifying behavioral consequences (4) developing and implementing an intervention strategy; and (5) evaluating performance improvement. Everything an employee does on the job is not equally important in terms of performances outcomes. The first step in OB Mod, therefore, is to identify the critical behaviors that make a significant impact on the employee’s job performance. These are those 5 to 10 percent of behaviors that may account for up to 70 or 80 percent of each employee’s performance.
Freight packers using containers whenever possible at Emery Air Freight is an example of a critical behavior. The second step requires the manager to develop some baseline performance data. This is obtained by determining the number of times the identified behavior is occurring under present conditions. In our freight-packing example at Emery, this would have revealed that 45 percent of all shipments were containerized. Third step is to perform a functional analysis to identify the behavioral contingencies or consequences of performance.
This tells the manager the antecedent cues that emit the behavior and the consequences that are currently maintaining it. At Emery Air Freight, social norms and the grater difficulty in packing containers were the antecedent cues. This encouraged the practice of packing items separately. Moreover, the consequences for containing the behavior, prior to the OB Mod intervention, were social acceptance and escaping more demanding work. Once the functional analysis is complete, the manager is ready to develop and implement an intervention strategy to strengthen desirable performance behaviors and weaken undesirable behaviors.
The appropriate strategy will entail changing some elements of the performance – reward linkage structure, processes, technology groups, or the task with the goal of making high level performance more rewarding. In the Emery example, the work technology was altered to require the keeping of a checklist. The checklists plus the computation, at the end of the day of a container utilization rate acted to reinforce the desirable behavior of using containers. 128 / 176 C, Vedigounder Colony, Thiruvagoundanoor Bye Pass, Salem 636 005 Phone : 0427 6532870 Mobile : 98427 33318 Email:[email protected] com Web site:www. helikx. com