Here is an essay on ‘Attitude’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Attitude’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Attitude
- Essay on the Definition of Attitudes
- Essay on the Functions of Attitudes
- Essay on the Major Dimensions of Attitudes
- Essay on the Formation of Attitudes
- Essay on the Measurement of Attitudes
- Essay on the Relationship between Attitudes and Actual Behaviour
- Essay on the Some Approaches to the Study of Attitudes
- Essay on the Ways of Changing Attitude
Essay # 1. Definition of Attitudes:
Attitude has been defined in a number of different ways. Allport (1935) defined an attitude as a “mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related.” He looked upon attitude primarily as a set to respond in a particular way.
An attitude is an enduring system that includes a cognitive component, a feeling component and an action tendency. Attitudes involve an emotional component. This is why when an attitude is formed it becomes resistant to change; it does not generally respond to new facts. An attitude involves beliefs as well as evaluations. The upper caste man has an unfavourable attitude toward a Harijan.
The Indian has an unfavourable attitude toward the Pakistanis or the Chinese. These attitudes involve some knowledge about the other groups (the cognitive component), some feelings of dislike (the affective, evolutional component) and a predisposition to avoid, attack etc., (the action component).
A social object is a person, the creation of a person, or a social event. We have attitudes towards individuals and groups, like Gandhi and Indian National Congress or Lohia and the Socialist Party or Annadorai and D.M.K. etc. We have attitudes toward products like Hindustani or Karnatak music, Bharat Natyam or Kathak Dance or motor cars and aeroplanes etc.
There are response consistencies; for example, a person who likes Indira Gandhi will also like Congress R and dislike Congress O or Jan Sangh etc. Thus attitudes give some consistency to our thinking about social objects as well as our feelings towards them. People also tend to act consistently as a result of these consistent beliefs and feelings.
Our attitudes are derived primarily from social influences. From birth, the human being is enmeshed in social institutions which constitute his environment in the same sense as the physical world. The home, being the primary social unit, has a great influence on the formation of one’s attitudes. This is why later experiences cannot easily alter these attitudes. This is also the reason why attitudes give a consistency to our responses to persons, groups, and other social objects.
Essay # 2. Functions of Attitudes:
People have attitudes towards social objects because they:
(a) Help them to organize, simplify and understand the world around them,
(b) Protect their self-esteem, by avoiding unpleasant truths about themselves, and
(c) Allow them to express their fundamental values.
To these three functions must be added a fourth one, that they help them to conform to the group and thus maximize rewards from the group. Thus attitudes help us to adjust to our environment. Once a social object has been categorized, it is possible to react to it in the manner typical of the group to which we belong. This saves us from a fresh decision and all its difficulties and problems. It helps us to behave in a smooth manner.
Smith et al (1956) have pointed out that one of the functions of attitudes is to provide “externalization” to some inner problems. The man with unresolved inner conflicts and frustrations can direct his hatred towards the out groups. This is one reason why “agitational” approach to social and political problems is more in vogue in India today than the “constitutional” approach.
Even the members of the legislature and the parliament take recourse to agitations whether in favour of prohibition or against cow slaughter. Language problems, border problems, river-water sharing problems and so on have been providing endless opportunities to the political leaders to start agitations to overthrow the duly constituted governments.
Katz (1960) discussed four functions that attitudes perform for the personality:
(a) The adjustment function helps to maximize the rewards and minimize the penalties, by agreeing with the majority attitude.
(b) Ego-defensive functions are served by enabling the individual from acknowledging uncomplimentary basic truths about himself; when a person does not get selected for a job he will say that only people with “influence” get jobs these days, though he may himself have asked some legislator or minister to ring up somebody in the selection committee.
(c) Value-expressive functions are involved when the expression of the attitudes gives pleasure to the person since they reveal the values he cherishes as, for example, vegetarianism or prohibition. and
(d) Knowledge functions based on the individual’s need to give structure to his universe, to understand it.
Essay # 3. Major Dimensions of Attitudes:
According to Triandis two major dimensions underlie behaviour toward any kind of attitude object:
(a) Positive vs. negative affect, and
(b) Seeking vs. avoiding contact.
A positive attitude will make a person sacrifice himself to the loved object as in patriotism, for example. A negative attitude may make a person to destroy the government property like the bus or tram or post office. There is seeking contact towards an object with positive affect as in embracing the beloved; there is also seeking contact towards an object with negative affect like in stabbing a person.
Thus, when there is seeking contact with positive affect it is “going toward” and when there is seeking contact with negative affect it is “going against.” When there is avoiding contact with negative affect there is the behaviour of “going away.”
As an illustration of avoiding contact toward an object with positive affect may be given the behaviour of a person towards one whom he reveres; for example, the youth who is fired by zeal with respect to the “Sarvodaya” movement may develop a great reverence to the Sarvodaya leader, Vinoba Bhave; he has a positive affect towards him, but he would not like to go near him; he may stand at a distance and look at him.
However, most of our behaviour will be along the three types, namely, going toward, going against and going away; the fourth type of avoiding contact with an object with positive affect is rare.
Essay # 4. Formation of Attitudes:
How are attitudes acquired? How do they develop? As noted above the majority of attitudes held by a person are acquired from the members of the family and from the peer group in early childhood and later. Thus, other people are generally the sources for the formation of attitudes.
Most of our attitudes develop within the group to which we belong. Another source is personal experience; such experiences, however, form a small number; though they are more intense than those formed by association with other people. The most intense, but rare, are the attitudes formed by a “traumatic experience,” like, for example, the shock of being suddenly attacked physically by a member of another communal group.
The cognitive component of attitudes are influenced by the general tendency to categorization. A Muslim meets many Hindus, but he tends to put them all together and simplifies the problem by some such generalization as “All Hindus are unreliable.” Similarly the Hindu who meets many Muslims overlooks all the variations and may generalize “All Muslims are crude.” Such categorizations simplify the situation but they are highly inaccurate because of the simplification.
The affective component of attitudes is characterized by the presence of positive or negative emotion. The affective component is influenced greatly by reinforcement and repetition. The positive attitude towards festivals is due to food, the lights etc., which give rise to pleasure. Similarly the negative attitudes are due to un-pleasure associated with individuals, groups or social events.
The behavioural component of attitudes are greatly influenced by social norms which are ideas held by a group regarding what is correct behaviour and what is not. In the course of socialization children are told by parents about what they should do and what they should not do.
The general basis for negative attitude toward Harijans is the fact that parents prevent children from associating with sweepers, cobblers, etc., who are poor, illiterate and dirty. Why do such norms for behaviour toward out-groups develop? Triandis and Triandis (1960) have argued that economic conditions place one group in a position of advantage over another group.
In order to maintain this position of advantage negative attitudes are developed towards the group with economic disadvantage so that it can continue to be backward. The norms will continue to operate even when economic considerations are not relevant. The upper caste man, for instance, continues to look upon a person as “untouchable” though he may have superior education, wealth etc. This is how he tries to maintain his self-esteem.
Among the personality variables which determine the formation of attitudes, the most important is child-training which leads to formation of “authoritarian” personality. Adorno et al (1950) showed that people who had stern and punitive fathers and grew up in families organized along hierarchical lines with a powerful father figure, developed the authoritarian personality.
Such people accept in group authority figures without questioning them, desire powerful leaders, show obedience and respect for authority, approve severe punishment for deviants and admire military men, athletes and financiers. By contrast those low in authoritarianism prefer equalitarian leaders, show warmth and love in interpersonal relations, are tolerant of deviants, admire scientists, artists and social reformers. Thus, those high in authoritarian scale are highly prejudiced in their outlook while those low in it are tolerant.
Another significant personality variable is “conscience” or inner control. There is a good deal of evidence to show that when the mother is the chief socializer using techniques of discipline like withdrawal of love, the child develops internal controls.
But, when the father is the chief socializer using techniques of discipline like physical punishment, the child has weak internal controls; the child does not learn to control himself. People who learn to use internal controls are more likely to act according to their own standards, while those who are under the influence of external controls are more likely to act according to the norms of their in-group.
Thus, the kind of child training to which different individuals are exposed results in different conceptualizations regarding interpersonal relationships. The more positive conceptualization leads to an outlook that people are good, strong and humanistic; they advocate negotiation etc., to settle disputes. But those who had experience of highly punitive child-training practices are likely to develop negative views of human relations looking upon people as bad and weak and favour settling disputes by violence.
Insecurity is another important personality variable. Sense of insecurity makes a person to be intolerant of ambiguity; so he may opt for “right dictatorship” (fascism) or “left dictatorship” (communism). Insecurity may be caused not only by child training, where the parents punish inconsistently and without explanation, but also by loss of status in adult life.
Among the societal variables determining attitudes are membership of groups. A person is not only a member of some groups, he also aspires to belong to other groups, called “reference groups.” A person’s attitudes are anchored in his membership and to the reference group.
For example, Jennings and Niemi (1968) found in a nationwide sample in U.S. that 76 per cent of high school seniors favoured the political party which both parents favoured and only 10 per cent had opposite preference. Thus, the fact that on many issues the child is exposed to only one position at home, in the peer group etc., results in his attitudes reflecting it.
But when they are exposed to conflicting opinions, as in the case of those who go to the college, there will be changes in attitude because of the new views being expressed by the teachers and fellow students.
Studies have shown that only about 50 to 60 per cent of the college students agree with the political party preference of their parents as against 76 per cent at the high school level. But there is also the pressure to war cognitive consistency that will be operating during youth and adult periods. As a result only those beliefs and values tend to be accepted which will fit in with the already existing cognitive structure.
Thus, attitude formation begins primarily as a learning process during childhood and adolescence. Once the attitudes are formed, the influence of the principle of cognitive consistency becomes increasingly important.
The individual is no longer primarily passive. He begins to process the new information in terms of what he has already learned. He tends to reject inconsistent information and accept more readily information consistent with his attitude. Thus, well-established attitudes tend to be extremely resistant to change, but others may be more amenable to change.
Essay # 5. Measurement of Attitudes:
Measurement of attitude is a highly technical process.
So an attempt is made to give a general indication of the various procedures used to measure attitudes:
1. Self-report Measures:
Typically attitudes are assessed on the basis of a series of carefully constructed, standardised, statements each with an index. The subject is asked to specify whether he “agrees” or “disagrees” with the statement. Usually each statement is assigned a scale value so that a quantitative index of the attitude may be obtained.
When a scale constructed by the Thurstone (1929) method is used, the subject simply selects those items with which he agrees. For example, in the Thurstone scale to measure attitude toward war, the statement “War is glorious” has a scale value of 11.0. “I never think about war and it does not interest me” has a scale value of 5.5. “War is a futile struggle resulting in self-destruction,” has a scale value of 1.4. The attitude score is the median of the scale values of the items with which he agrees.
Another procedure which yields similar results is that developed by Likert (1932). In this method the subject has to indicate his response to a statement on a five-point scale strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree and strongly disagree; weights of 1. 2, 3, 4 and 5 are given to these responses. The final attitude score is obtained by summing the scores for each statement.
Another technique is the Bogardus (1925) social distance scale where seven statements of varying social intimacy from “would marry” a member of the group to “would not like him to enter my country” are given and the subject is asked up to which degree of intimacy he would like to admit the given social group.
Yet another technique is the “semantic differential technique” developed by Osgood (1957) in which the subject has to indicate on a seven-point scale the quality of the item.
All the various techniques correlate highly with each other; if a person is rated as a highly prejudiced person by one technique, he will be rated in the same way by the other techniques also.
2. Observation of Overt Behaviour:
It has been seen above how La Piere (1934) made a trip around U.S. with a Chinese couple to study the attitude of hoteliers towards Oriental people, on the basis of actual behaviour.
Webb et al (1966) have criticised the heavy dependence of social psychologists on self-reports to measure attitudes. They have suggested a series of measures based on actual behaviour or on records indicating behaviour. For example, the sales records will show the attitude towards food items, or towards the various “soft drinks” like Coca- Cola, Fanta, Limca etc.
Similarly a measure of change in attitude toward “ready-made dresses” could be obtained by analysing the sales records of ready-made dresses and also analysing the number of orders given to tailors to make various types of clothing.
3. Interpretation of Partially Structured Stimuli:
The subject may be shown a photo or a picture and asked to describe the scene. This is a “projective” technique. On this basis of the description or story, the subject’s attitude toward that social object could be studied.
Essay # 6. Relationship between Attitudes and Actual Behaviour:
Lapiere (1934) found no relationship between actual behaviour and the attitude expressed towards a Chinese couple. He travelled with a Chinese couple and they stopped at many hotels and visited many restaurants. They were cordially received, given rooms and all facilities.
Later he wrote to all these hotels and restaurants which they visited and also many others which they had not visited and asked the managers whether they would receive Chinese guests. It was found that 92 per cent of those who replied said that they would not accept the Chinese as guests.
Thus, there was no relation between the actual behaviour and the attitude expressed in reply to a letter. This discrepancy is due to the difference in the two stimulus situations. When the Chinese guests went with an American, they were cordially received and served. But the letter was a formal request and the response was according to the prevailing norm, not to receive any guests of Oriental origin.
In contrast Kuppuswamy (1954) found that the Andhra college youth were very eager that linguistic provinces should be established in response to a questionnaire given in 1951. Actually by 1954 there were student rioting and adult rioting in Vijayawada and other places and the situation was so severe that Andhra State was formed as the first linguistic state. Here there is a positive relation between the attitude expressed and the actual behaviour.
Another illustration may be given. The Shiv Sena movement in Bombay was against the people of the Southern states who had settled down in Bombay. Actually within a short period the attitude manifested itself in actual behaviour destroying the properties of the Southerners.
It is well known that there was an identity between the social norm expressed as an attitude and the actual behaviour towards the ex-untouchables in India. In spite of the campaign carried on by Gandhiji and inspite of Art. 17 abolishing untouchability in 1950, even now negative attitude as well as avoidance behaviour are to be found in the villages of India where 80 per cent of the people live.
On the other hand, one of the great problems India has been facing is in the area of national integration. As far as the expressed attitudes are concerned Indians are highly nationalistic. They will shout “Jai Hind.” They stand in reverence when the national anthem is sung. But in actual behaviour casteism, communalism and linguism prevail. Here behaviour is at variance with the attitude expressed verbally.
It must be recognized that attitudes are neither necessary nor sufficient causes of behaviour. They are only “facilitative causes.”
Behaviour is a function of:
(b) Social norms,
(c) Habits, and
(d) Expectations about reinforcement.
When there is consistency between all these four factors, there is consistency between attitudes and behaviour. Sugar (1967) tested this formulation.
He asked college students:
(a) Whether they liked to smoke (affect toward smoking),
(b) Whether their friends approve of smoking (norm),
(c) Whether they usually smoked (habit).
Later on he casually offered them cigarettes. It was found that when all the three predictors were consistent, the behaviour followed; but when the three predictor variables were not consistent the accuracy of prediction dropped.
Thus, the actual behaviour is dependent not on attitude alone but on the other factors like the social norm, habit, etc.
Essay # 7. Some Approaches to the Study of Attitudes:
Broadly there are three approaches to the study of attitude formation and change:
1. Conditioning and Reinforcement:
This model is closely associated with Hovland and his coworkers. The basic assumption is that attitudes are learnt like other habits. Just as people acquire information and facts, they also acquire feelings and values associated with these facts. The child not only learns that a certain animal is a dog, he also learns to like or dislike dogs. Thus, according to this view the principles and theories derived from studying the learning process can be applied to attitudes also. Attitudes are learnt through association.
Because the grandmother, who is liked, tells stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata during childhood, the Indian child has a positive attitude towards these epics. Learning also occurs through reinforcement. The attitude toward Ramayana is reinforced by the reward (pleasure, praise) which visitors to the house express when the child relates the story of Rama.
2. Incentives and Conflicts:
According to this theory a person adopts that attitude which maximizes his gains. This approach is particularly relevant to attitude change. It views the attitude situation in terms of an approach-avoidance conflict. This can be illustrated with the “constructive programme” developed by Gandhi in order to unify the people of India to obtain independence.
He made the Congress workers to accept a number of programmes which were traditionally unacceptable to them. For example, in order to promote a sense of hygiene and also to make people give up their disgust towards scavangers and scavanging, he made the Congress workers to participate in what he called safai programme.
They were made to dig pits for use and cover the refuse with mud so that the latrine is clean and free from smell. Similarly to promote Hindu-Muslim unity he made the Congress workers of all communities not only to live together, eat together, but also to join in the common prayers where texts from the Gita, the Koran, the Bible etc., were recited.
He made the removal of “untouchability” a basic programme and induced the higher caste people to take their food along with the Harijans. All these programmes are really programmes to change the attitude of people towards the various social groups. Gandhi succeeded in changing the attitudes of the Congress workers at that time because of there love and reverence to him and because of their zeal for national liberation.
So the “approach” was more powerful than the “avoidance”; the attitude change took place from disgust to ex-untouchables to a more humanistic outlook. Similarly with respect to other issues also. But the real effects of this were only changes in legislation, that is, change in official norms rather than change in local norms in the small groups in rural and urban areas.
3. Cognitive Consistency:
Cognitive consistency theorists, though they differ considerably among themselves, generally assume that there is a tendency for all people to seek consistency among their cognitions and that this is a major determinant of attitude formation.
According to these theories, when in an individual, there is inconsistency between some beliefs and values and other beliefs and values, he strives to alter them so that they become more consistent with each other. Even if his cognitions are consistent and he is faced with a new cognition that would produce inconsistency, he strives to minimize the inconsistency.
An illustration from current Indian situation will clarify the point. According to prevailing social norms in an agricultural society, people believe that children are the gifts of God, that male children are necessary both for secular success in carrying out agricultural operations profitably and for the repayment of the debt to the ancestors (pitr rna); thirdly, there was the fact of large incidence of infant mortality and the short span of life of those who survived.
All these attitudes have now to be changed in view of “population explosion.” Increase in knowledge and large scale application of knowledge in public health has decreased both the infant mortality rate (from about 160 in 1951 to about 80 in 1971) and general mortality rate (from about 30 in 1951 to about 15 in 1971); it has increased the longevity of people from about 27 years in 1951 to about 57 years in 1971.
As a result of steep decreases in death rate without a corresponding decrease in birth rate, the country is faced with great increase in population and consequent increase in unemployment, food shortage, etc. Like in the 19th century Europe and America, the educated middle classes living in urban areas are being affected by the increased cost of living and so are trying to change their attitude by accepting the small family norm.
But the national problem remains since 80 per cent of the people continue to live in rural areas and as many are illiterate. Their standard of life is so low that there is no cognitive inconsistency; hence there is no attempt to change their attitudes. Some slight change in their attitude was effected through large scale utilization of “incentive programmes.”
But all these cannot bring about a real decrease in the birth rate if there is no change in social norms in the small groups in rural and urban areas. Here again is an illustration of the change in national norms which have become ineffective without a corresponding change in the norms of the small groups.
It is not necessary to go into the details of various theories of cognitive consistency, like the balance theory, congruity theory and so on in this book.
Some Indian Studies on Attitudes:
There have been studies in attitude measurement and change in the educational, industrial, family planning and other fields.
In the educational field attempts have been made to measure attitude of students toward the various school subjects, school activities, vocations etc. Some studies have also been made to study the attitude of teachers and teacher trainees. Attempts have also been made to assess the attitudinal changes effected as a result of training.
In the industrial field many studies have been made to measure the attitude towards the job, the management, the labour unions, etc. Ganguly (1958) set up an action programme including lectures and discussions to orient the attitude of foundary workers towards supervisors, national government, and the job. A marked improvement in the participants’ disposition was reported. Chowdhry (1953) studies the attitude of textile workers and its effect on working efficiency.
Several attempts have been made to construct scales to measure radicalism-conservatism. Rao (1962) using the centroid technique of factor analysis has shown that three bipolar factors are involved in social attitudes. Kundu (1966) has given weightage to attitude components and put forward a new concept of attitude.
Commenting on the various attempts made so far, Rath (1972) has said, “considering the importance of attitude scale construction, the work done in this regard does not seem to be very adequate; and there are not many well established and widely accepted standardized scales of attitude available for Indian conditions.”
Kamala Gopal Rao (1968) has put together several studies made to measure attitude toward Family Planning programmes. Most of these attempts have used the questionnaire and interview techniques; some have used scaling techniques. Panda and Kanungo (1964) used the Thurstone and Likert technique to develop scales to measure attitude toward family planning on an all-India basis.
Another significant development is what is known as KAP studies; the aim is to find the relation between knowledge, attitude and practice. The results of large scale studies indicate that while knowledge with respect to family planning programme has been widespread because of the use of mass media and while attitudes are also favourable, only about five per cent actually practice some family planning techniques to control birth. These studies clearly show how merely having favourable attitude toward family planning does not guarantee its practice.
Essay # 8. Ways of Changing Attitude:
Attitudes can be changed in a variety of ways. One of the sources of change is by obtaining new information which may come from other people or through the mass media. Such new information may produce changes in the cognitive component of a person’s attitude.
There is a tendency for consistency in the component of any attitude. So when there are changes in the cognitive component there may be changes in the affective and behavioural components also. Attitudes may change through direct experience. A person who is prejudiced against Harijans may meet in a friend’s house a very well informed, intelligent Harijan.
This experience may bring about some dissonance between his cognitions between his expectation and his experience. This may require him to reorganize his thinking about Harijans.
Another way to change the attitudes is by legislation. Because the law prohibits and punishes the practice of untouchability there may be changes in attitudes toward Harijans. This can be seen in cities and big towns where there is hardly any awareness of the caste of the other person. But this is not true in the rural areas where the intimate, small group norm is more powerful than the distant, national norm.
Since a person’s attitudes are anchored in his membership group and reference group, one way to change these attitudes is to modify one or the other. Newcomb’s (1943) classic study showed how college attendance can have a significant effect on one’s attitudes. The study was conducted in a small residential college where there was great scope for interaction between the teachers and the students.
The girls came mostly from wealthy conservative homes. The teachers were extremely liberal in their outlook. As a result of this interaction the attitudes of the girls changed. They became more and more liberal. Newcomb (1963) made a follow-up study on as many girls as he could trace and found that 25 years later, they were conspicuously more liberal than the women of the same age and socio-economic background.
However, it must be realised that there is a great difference in situation; in the laboratory and in the college campus significant changes in attitudes may be possible; but as politicians and other propagandists like the advertisers know, the campaigns conducted through mass media are not so successful in producing changes in attitudes among the masses.
One of the most significant cases of mass change in attitudes in India was in the General Elections in 1970 for the Parliament and in 1971 for State Legislatures. After the split in the Indian National Congress in 1969, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with her radical programme of Bank Nationalization was able to build up a new image of Congress R.
The whole country was dissatisfied with the continuance of large scale poverty, illiteracy and unemployment after nearly 25 years of independence, even though there was very impressive success in the field of industrialization; this, however, only made a small proportion, probably ten per cent, of the population affluent.
Further, the 1967 elections, which clearly rejected the Congress and put in several non- Congress parties in power in the States, showed that the “United- Front” Governments made up of parties with different ideologies were making a mess with their squabbles. Finally, the minority communities, particularly the Muslims, the Christians and the Harijans were bewildered with the success in 1967 elections of the Jan Sangh, which, rightly or wrongly, is associated with communalism.
All these forces operated to bring about a landslide victory of the Congress R, in 1970 and 1971. But the basic problems of large-scale poverty, illiteracy and unemployment continue to plague the Indian situation. Unless there is some success in tackling these problems it is difficult to foresee what shape the attitude of people will take in the coming critical years, in spite of the success in Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.
Hovland and Janis (1959) suggested a useful model of attitude change that included many stages and variables.
The following figure illustrates the model in a very simplified form:
There must be a “communicator” who hold a particular position on some issue and is trying to convince others to hold the same position. In order to do this, he produces a “communication” designed to persuade people to change their views. This communication is presented in a given “situation.”
These three constitute the essential features— the source, the communication and the situation and surroundings. But the communication may not reach the target intact. Probably the communication may not reach the target at all because the lines of communication do not exist.
For example, Kuppuswamy (1971), in his 1961-62 study in Mysore District, found that more than two-thirds of the rural group had not heard of the five-year plans. Secondly, because of previous commitments and personal involvements, the target groups may avoid the communication.
For example, in 1972 when the problem of radical lowering of landholdings to 18 to 10 standard acres of irrigated land or to 54 acres of dry land was under discussion, the landholding groups were totally impervious to the concrete situation where about 20 per cent of rural people are landless and about 75 per cent of the landholding people had less than five acres of dry land.
They were only thinking of their own situation and these were generally absentee landlords, living in cities, following professions or business. Then there is the factor of surrounding situation; there is the competing propaganda from other sources who are against the given source and the given message and try to impress their point of view on the people.
There is considerable evidence with regard to what is now identified as the “two-step flow of information.” Most people do not read newspapers and do not hear the radio. Only a small fraction in the society read newspapers carefully and hears the significant programmes on the radio. These people tend to be the most influential members of their community or group.
They are called the “opinion leaders,” because they have considerable impact on the attitudes of their associates. They pass on the information to their friends. By means of this two-step flow of communications, some of the persuasive material does reach the people. Thus, one of the critical points in propaganda and attitude change is to reach these opinion leaders.
We can now briefly apply these principles to the Indian situation. In 1920 when Gandhi launched his non-cooperation programme he was able to get practically the whole nation to support him. Thousands of responsible citizens ‘gave up their professions and joined the movement. Tens of thousands of students gave up their studies.
This phenomenal situation arose because Gandhi, the source of communication, had already demonstrated in 1917 his capacity as a leader and his fearlessness by the four successful campaigns, namely:
(1) Champaran Satyagraha in indigo plantations in north-western corner of Bihar;
(2) Ahmedabad Satyagraha and fast to settle the textile mill labourers’ problems;
(3) The Kaira Satyagraha in Gujarat to suspend the land revenue code due to famine; and
(4) The abolition of indentured labour system.
The convent of his communication was the attainment of self- government through “ahimsa” the abandonment of all kinds of violence and thorough non-cooperation, “a voluntary withdrawal” of all support to the government. He wanted all those who “are holding offices of honour or emolument” to give them up, and also those who belong to the menial services under the government. Then what about the situation? The movement was launched after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and Khilafat agitation and the failure of the British Government to satisfy the demands for “Home Rule” by accepting the recommendation of Montague-Chelmsford reforms which only envisaged the transfer of a few subjects in the states to elected ministers.
Thus the whole country was seething with discontent. What about the target? Gandhi started for the first time a mass movement. So the people were ready to join a movement which gave promise of the overthrow of the alien rulers. The masses are ignorant; they were mobilized through the “two-step” flow of information.
The leaders, who resigned their offices, communicated the message. Thus, not only the 1920 movement, but the other movements launched by Gandhi in 1930 and 1942 were all of the same pattern. He had insight into the needs of the people and could make them sacrifice their all for the attainment of independence.
By contrast, such forces are not in operation either with respect to the Five-Year plans or the community development programme or other national programmes. It is only the Bank Nationalization programme that had some of these features which could change the attitudes of the people.