We might have spent our life using the word ‘attitude ‘so extensively, yet we might not fully understand the true meaning of it.
An attitude is defined as an idea about a person, a particular topic, a subject, or something. It can be either positive or negative, good or bad, depending upon the context. Psychologically speaking, an attitude has three features, which involve ‘feeling’ as an affective component. a ‘behavior’ reflected due to the attitude, and our ‘action’ resulting from the attitude is known as the cognitive component.
Attitudes shape our personality to a great extent; they enable the way we perceive other people and things around us. Even though our attitudes do not easily change, they can be flexible depending upon our will, inspired by other sources such as persuasion.
Persuasion is the method of convincing or changing one’s belief system and attitude by any means of communication. Attitudes are hard to change, especially those which are deeply rooted in childhood. Attitude changes are debatable among psychologists, yet they are factors upon which attitude change depends, these are:
1. Source of the persuasive message
Persuasion is dependent upon the source of the message; i.e. one who delivers the message;
The appearance of, a communicator is a key factor, it is noticed when a message giver is attractive, the audience is easily persuaded; for example, a celebrity’s appearance compels a customer to buy a new hair cream in the market.
An expert delivering a message makes people more likely to believe and follow it.
For example, a new brand of toothpaste is recommended by an advertisement that cures sensitivity.
4. Nature of the audience
Certain variables related to the target of persuasion impact the success of the persuasive attempt, and the audience refers to the target of persuasion, i.e., the person or persons to be persuaded.
5. Fear appeal
Messages with a fear appeal are those that are intended to arouse fear in the recipient; when a message arouses fear and people genuinely feel threatened, they either argue against the threat or dismiss it applies to themselves.
Highly credible sources are more likely to be persuaded than those low in credibility; credibility refers to knowledge of what one is talking about, expertise, and trustworthiness of the topic, making the audience adapt to a new message more prominently.
News channels easily persuade people because they consider them credible sources of knowledge.
7. Resistance to attitude change
Apart from the obvious truth that attitudes can be altered by persuasion, there are other techniques to resist persuasion.
Reactance is the unusual feeling that arises when people experience a threat or loss of control of their freedom. Persuasion can make people feel like the other person is making them do something they don’t want. For example; Teenagers often ignore the advice of elders due to a loss of freedom in their actions.
Forewarning is the prior knowledge of the shared message that compels people to question the authenticity of the knowledge through fact-checking. For example, a person with prior knowledge about pyramid schemes might reject an offer made by an agent to invest in the scheme due to its drawbacks in it.
Counterargument refers to the argument which arises against the persuasive message which weakens the message’s effect on us. For example; A debate between the cat owner and dog owner determining who is the best pet between dog and cat leads to a counterargument due to the fact they both consider their pet as best.
It is the method by which people avoid those messages which contradict their own beliefs. They selectively chose to neglect those messages, hence being resistant to avoiding change. For example, a smoking person chooses to avoid the fact that smoking causes cancer because it is against his own belief that smoking is harmless to him.
Benefits of attitude change
1. Accepting the change
Persuasion can help people to develop resistance to change without causing them anxiety. People with adjustment problems struggle to adjust themselves even to small amounts of change, whether in daily activities, lifestyle, work, or peer groups. By addressing the issue lies within that compels them to resist changes we can persuade them to follow and accept the benefits of novel ideas and change that brings positivity in life.
2. Achieve personal growth
In terms of personal growth persuasion can be a great tool. It can allow an individual to be open to attitude change that helps them to gain knowledge and face new challenges in life which will make them more adaptive and flexible.
3. Improve communication skills
Having good communication is necessary for today’s life not only for the workplace or academic institution but because of the ability to have an effective dialogue where a person feels heard when expressing their feelings. Good communication allows nurturing of a healthy mindset and well-being of a person.
4. Promoting health
Developing healthy habits is not an easy task. Persuasion can shape an individual mind to accept the problems of engaging in harmful habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Persuasive messages can help a person to see the positive impact of attitude change and realize the harm of bad habits.
It is vital to remember that persuasion is not always about coercion or forcing others around; rather, it is about ethically informing and educating people. It can make people understand the positive impact of attitude change and should be studied keeping in the knowledge that the human mind is unique and it is prone to change or not to change despite the daily life persuasion that occurs in society. Persuasion occurs differently in different persons.