Eight factors on which the modifiability of out attitude depends are: a. Personality of the individual b. Values and attitudes c. Group affiliation d. New information e. Persuasive communication f. Commitment g. Role-playing h. Mass media.
a. Personality of the individual:
The attitudes of people having personality characteristics like conservatism, authoritarianism, etc. are very difficult to change. Whereas in people having liberal personality characteristics like radicalism, etc, it is easy to change their attitudes because they are pervious to new information.
Minorities, illiterates are impervious to new information and hence very difficult to change their attitudes.
b. Values and attitudes:
Attitudes which are anchored in social norms and values of society are more difficult to change than attitudes which are not so based. For example, A Hindu tradition, treating cow as a Goddess is a positive attitude which cannot be changed.
c. Group affiliation:
One of the significant aspects of social behaviour in Indian society is the close relationship between attitudes and group affiliation. It is very difficult to change the attitudes of people who are having strong affiliation with their groups. For example, caste groups affiliation, language group affiliation, etc.
d. New information:
According to New Comb, et al (1965), attitude change depends very much on the receipt of new information- relevant to the attitude holder. That is, only new information cannot bring a change, it must be relevant to the person. For example, in the case of objects like mobile phones, fertilizers, hybrid seeds, new types of medical equipments used for skilled operations- new information about them leads not only to a change in attitude, but also to their utilization.
However, information which involves changes in core values of culture may be ineffective to generate change. For example, the people who have firm belief in non-violence may resist to use non- vegetarian food even if they are told it is very good food.
e. Persuasive communication:
Communication plays a very important role in changing attitudes. Studies have shown that persuasive communication is very important and it depends upon several factors:
i. Properties of attitudes:
As regards the properties of attitude, the important point is whether the attitude stems from a value that is basic to individual strongly supported by the culture. For example, image worship by Hindus can never be changed.
ii. Properties of the communicator:
If a person has a striking personality he may well command attention and make a change. High status of the communicator obtains group approval easily. For example, the wordings of Dr Abdul Kalam, ex President of India, Sachin Tendulkar and such other popular people can influence youngsters.
The two major properties of communicator are – expertness and trustworthiness.
iii. Message factors:
Assimilation of message is very important, because there is interaction between the context, the communicator and the respondent’s knowledge and attitude.
iv. Belief in the communicator:
Belief in the communication and change in attitude depends upon the prestige of the communicator. If he is in a high position and if his message is relevant to likes and dislikes of the people- attitude change can result in. For example, religious heads or good leaders can influence people and change their attitudes.
v. Fear arousing appeals:
One of the common techniques in advertising is to arouse fear. For example, insurance companies earn a lot of money creating fear about diseases, accidents, thefts, dacoits, etc. The toothpaste advertisements carry the threat of a bad mouth odour or decay of teeth, thereby by creating fear and appeal to purchase a particular company’s tooth brush and paste. For example, where there is Colgate, there is health.
Festinger’s dissonance theory (1957) suggests that commitment to a behaviour about which one has negative attitudes set up dissonance. This dissonance leads to tension in the individual and motivate him to change his attitude and reduce the dissonance.
For example, when a person commits openly about cigarette smoking he will be forced to change his attitude.
This has also been found to be effective in attitude change. Scott (1957) found that when a person was induced to speak in a debate in favour of some proposition, which he actually disliked, his attitude towards it had changed in its favour. For example, adopting family planning by a leader, who advocates it, has to change his attitude and be a model.
h. Mass media:
Mass media can influence change in attitudes. But it is one way, so it may not be highly effective like direct J communication where the communicator will persuade people by answering their doubts. For example, agricultural products like new seeds, manure, etc., recommended by media, may be rejected by agriculturists.
A new drug announced by media may not convince doctor, but “he will be convinced very well by a medical representative.