Attitudes and Intentions Dealing with the Consumer Essay

This essay has a total of 1392 words and 8 pages.


Attitudes and Intentions Dealing with the Consumer




Attitudes and intentions have always been a major part of the marketers’ research.
Attitudes, a person’s overall evaluation of a concept, is used in the integration process
to see how an object is thought of and viewed. Intentions also determine most voluntary
behaviors. Measures of consumers’ intentions may not be perfect indicators of the actual
intentions that determine the behavior. Throughout the paper, I will discuss the
relationship between attitudes and intentions and the part they both play on the marketing
plan.

Attitude has been called “the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary
American social psychology.” (Fishbein 1-19) And it is one of the most important concepts
marketers use to understand consumers. This is because marketers have been able to use
attitudes as key tools in the research process. Over the years, researchers have tried a
variety of approaches to studying attitudes in an attempt to provide a more complete


understanding of behavior. This behavior of consumers has thought to be strategically
dependent on the attitudes of the consumers. Although the dominant approach to attitudes
has changed over the years, nearly all definitions of attitude have one thing in common:
they all refer to a person’s overall evaluation of a concept. (Fazio 204-43) Evaluations
are affective responses at relatively low levels of intensity and arousal, created by both
the affective and cognitive systems. The affective system automatically produces
affective responses – including emotions, feelings, moods, and evaluations or attitudes –
as immediate, direct responses to certain stimuli. These stimuli may or may not affect the
response, depending on the environment at which the test is being performed. The
cognitive processing model of consumer decision making shows that an overall evaluation is
formed when consumers combine knowledge, meaning, or beliefs about the attitude



concept. (Allen 301-15) This means that the overall evaluation is also dependent upon the
accumulation of certain aspects of the attitude concept.

Thurstone introduced one of the earliest definitions of attitude in 1931. He viewed
attitude as a fairly simple concept – the amount of affect a person has for or against an
object. A few years later, Allport proposed a much broader definition: “Attitude is a
mental and neural state of readiness to respond, organized through experience, and
exerting a directive and/or dynamic influence on behavior.” (Lutz 234-5)

Today, most researchers agree that the simple concept of an attitude proposed by Thurstone
and Fishbein is the most useful. That is, attitude represents a person’s favorable or
unfavorable feelings toward the object in question. For example, if a person’s feelings
towards an institution of higher learning are unfavorable, the



attitude is generally not too good towards that institution. Beliefs (cognition) and
intentions to behave (conation) are seen as related to attitude but are separate cognitive
concepts, not part of attitude itself. (Myers-Levy 76-86) So, both cognition and conation
are related to attitude but directly.

Objects and behaviors are the two broad types of concepts that most interest marketers.
Consumers can have attitudes toward various physical and social objects including
products, brands, models, stores, and people, as well as aspects of the marketing
strategy. Consumers also can have attitudes toward imaginary objects such as concepts and
ideas. It does not matter if the object is real or perceived it still has relevance to
consumers whether it is a brand like Coca-Cola or if it is an idea like having car alarms
in all of the 2001 models. A 1997 survey of Americans’ attitudes toward pollution and the


environment found that, compared to five years ago, 76 percent were more concerned, 19
percent were less concerned, and 6 percent were unchanged. (Fishbein 1-19)

Once an attitude has been formed and stored in memory, consumers do not have to engage in
another integration process to construct another attitude when they need to evaluate the
concept again. Instead, the existing attitude can be activated from memory and used as a
basis for interpreting new information. Because activated attitudes can influence
consumers’ judgements, taste test usually are conducted blind (tasters are not told what
brands they are

tasting). This avoids activating brand attitudes that could persuade the taste
judgements. Finally, the activated attitude can be integrated with other knowledge in
decision making. (d’Astous 132-37)

Consumers’ attitudes have been studied intensively, but marketers tend to be more concerned about consumers’

overt behavior, especially their purchase behavior. It is not surprising that a great
deal of research has been primarily devoted to the relationship between attitudes and
behavior. (Jaccard 600-5) Based on the idea of consistency, you might expect attitudes
toward an object. For instance, “most market researchers believe, and operate under the
assumption, that the more favorable a person’s attitude toward a given product (or brand).
(Fishbein 3)

Predicting consumers’ future behaviors, especially their purchase behavior, is critically
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