Theories Of Attitude Structure And Change

By George Day
1971| Working Paper No. 12

The study of attitudes is well entrenched in marketing theory and practice. The acceptance by theorists is evident in the pivotal role that the concept of attitude plays in the major descriptive models of consumer behavior (Engel, Kollat and Blackwell, 1968; Howard and Sheth, 1969; Nicosia, 1966). Practitioners have tended to take a more limited view of attitude as an easily measured construct they can use to understand their market, and perhaps to evaluate the effect of a persuasive communication. In reality, most practitioners are inveterate theorists, constantly invoking experimental theories of attitude change to predict changes in purchasing or usage behavior as a consequence of alternative strategies for changing attitudes. The necessity for such theories can be illustrated by the following problems: (a) A farm equipment manufacturer in a developing country wants prospective distributors to adopt a new scheme for financing inventories. First he has to change their presently negative attitudes towards investing in inventories; but how? (b) The makers of low pollution emmitant and low lead gasolines wish to associate their product with pollution abatement in a positive manner. What appeals should they use? (c) Birth control pill manufacturers need to predict the response of pill users to negative information from a highly credible source, such as a senate subcommittee. What proportion of the users are, susceptible to change because of lack of conviction and ambivalent attitude? (d) Consumers have a strong aversion to “reprocessed” forms of materials such as textiles and plastics. _x000B_