Answer & Explanation:Complete the TAAP on the Theory of Planned Behavior (around p 49). Use the topic as stated, OR focus on your attitude toward group projects, OR a task or duty at work. Try to think of alternative thoughts or actions you could take to address each part of the model.Think about how to create positive norms for yourself and others.If you are a manager now, you might also discuss how to use this model to influence another person’s behavior.
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2.2 PERSONAL ATTITUDES AND THEIR IMPACT ON BEHAVIOR AND OUTCOMES
How do personal attitudes affect workplace behavior and workrelated outcomes?
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Closely related to values are personal attitudes. Like values, personal attitudes operate as an input in the
Integrative Framework for Understanding and Applying OB. (In contrast, workplace attitudes are
defined as outcomes in the Integrated Framework.) Starting from the personal, look for your own
experiences in the OB view that personal attitudes have three components—affective, cognitive, and
behavioral. Knowing these components brings you closer to understanding how and when personal
attitudes affect behavior. Have you ever been stopped short by something that didn’t seem to make sense?
When personal attitudes collide with reality, the result is cognitive dissonance. From an OB perspective,
your personal attitudes affect your behavior via your intentions.
In this section, we discuss the components of personal attitudes and examine the connection between personal
attitudes and behavior.
Personal attitudes affect behavior at a different level than do values. While values represent global beliefs that
influence behavior across all situations, personal attitudes relate only to behavior directed toward specific
objects, persons, or situations. We can summarize the differences between the two as follows:
Global Broad: All situations Variously
Personal AttitudesSpecificTargeted: SpecificallyVia intentions
Attitudes represent our feelings or opinions about people, places, and objects, and range from positive to
negative. They are important because they impact our behavior. For example, you are more likely to select
chocolate ice cream over vanilla if you are more positively disposed toward chocolate. In contrast, workplace
attitudes are an outcome of various OBrelated processes, including leadership, a topic to be discussed in
Chapter 13. In this chapter we reserve the term “workplace attitudes” for attitudes that have resulted from the
interaction of various individual, group, and organizational processes. We examine the effects of workplace
attitudes later in Section 2.3.
As predictors of likely behavior, attitudes attract serious attention. Hardly a day goes by without the popular
media reporting the results of another effort to take the pulse of public opinion (attitudes). What do we think
about the president and members of Congress, efforts to combat terrorism, the war on drugs, gun control, or
taxes? Political consultants use this information to craft messages to nudge the public’s attitudes toward the
results they feel are favorable to their side. In the workplace, managers conduct attitude surveys to monitor
workplace attitudes like job satisfaction and employee engagement, and to determine the causes of employee
For example, one study showed that seniors with a positive attitude about aging had better memory, had better
hearing, and lived longer than those with negative attitudes.10 In a work setting, workplace attitudes were
positively related to performance and negatively to indicators of withdrawal—lateness, absenteeism, and
Personal Attitudes: They Represent My Consistent Beliefs and Feelings about Specific Things
Consider a work example. If you have a positive attitude about your job (specifically, you like what you are
doing), you would be more willing to extend yourself at work by working longer and harder: Working longer
and harder is often referred to as “organizational citizenship behavior,” a concept discussed later in this chapter.
This example illustrates that attitudes propel us to act in a specific way in a specific context.
Values and attitudes generally, but not always, are in harmony. A manager who strongly values helpful behavior
may have a negative attitude toward helping an unethical coworker.
We are more likely to purchase a car when we have positive attitudes toward it. These attitudes might pertain to
make, model, color, price, and quality. What are your attitudes toward purchasing a white, used car? Which
component of attitudes is most strongly impacting your overall attitude toward white, used cars?
The Three Components of Attitudes: Affective, Cognitive, and Behavioral Our overall attitudes toward someone
or something are a function of the combined influence of three components
1. The affective component—“I feel.” The affective component of an attitude contains the feelings or
emotions one has about a given object or situation. For example, how do you feel about people who
talk on their cell phones in restaurants? If you feel annoyed or angry with such people, you are
experiencing negative affect or feelings toward people who talk on cell phones in restaurants.
2. The cognitive component—“I believe.” The cognitive component of an attitude reflects the beliefs or
ideas one has about an object or situation. What do you think about people who talk on cell phones in
restaurants? Your ideas about such behavior represents the cognitive component of your attitude toward
people talking on cell phones in restaurants.
3. The behavioral component—“I intend.” The behavioral component refers to how one intends or
expects to act toward someone or something. For example, how would you intend to respond to
someone talking on a cell phone during dinner at a restaurant if this individual were sitting in close
proximity to you and your guest?
All three components influence our behavior. You are unlikely to say anything to someone using a cell phone in
a restaurant if you are not irritated by this behavior (affective), if you believe cell phone use helps people to
manage their lives (cognitive), and if you have no intention of confronting this individual (behavioral).
When Attitudes and Reality Collide: Consistency and Cognitive Dissonance Have you ever been accused of
being a hypocrite—saying one thing and then behaving differently? Like most people, you probably want to
maintain consistency between your attitudes and your behavior.
Social psychologist Leon Festinger
But sometimes attitudes conflict with reality. Suppose that Samantha has a positive attitude about helping others.
One day her boss asks her if she would work on a special project for an important new client—and it must get
done in two months. The project represents significant revenue, and her boss even promises a onetime bonus
for successfully completing the project on time. The rub is that two of her peers have also come to her seeking
help on their project. Samantha feels that she is best suited to help them, given her past experience, but she feels
pressured given the demands of her new assignment. While Samantha has some flexibility in how she uses her
time, she doesn’t want to miss the project deadline. Should she make time to help her peers or singularly focus
on the special project? According to social psychologist Leon Festinger, this situation would create cognitive
Cognitive dissonance represents the psychological discomfort a person experiences when simultaneously
holding two or more conflicting cognitions (ideas, beliefs, values, or emotions).12 Festinger was fascinated
by how people are motivated to maintain consistency (and avoid dissonance) among their attitudes and beliefs,
and how they resolve inconsistencies that drive cognitive dissonance. From observation, he theorized that if you
are experiencing cognitive dissonance, or psychological tension, you can reduce it in one of three ways
1. Change your attitude or behavior or both. Samantha could either (a) tell herself that she can’t help her
peers because the special project is too important for the company or (b) schedule extra time each day or
week to help her peers.
2. Belittle the importance of the inconsistent behavior. Samantha could belittle (in the sense of “make
small”) the belief that she needs to help peers every time they ask for assistance.
3. Find consonant elements that outweigh dissonant ones. Samantha could tell herself that she can’t help
because the company needs the revenue and she needs the bonus.
Attitudes Affect Behavior via Intentions
Psychologist I. Ajzen and M. Fishbein further explored the rationale for why someone’s attitudes and behavior
could misalign. Based on this work, Ajzen developed and refined a model focusing on intentions as the key link
between attitudes and planned behavior. See Figure 2.2.
FIGURE 2.2AJZEN’S THEORY OF PLANNED BEHAVIOR
SOURCE: Reprinted from Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50, No. 2, I. Arjzen,
“The Theory of Planned Behavior,” Copyright © 1991, with permission from Elsevier.
Determinants of Intention Figure 2.2 suggests how three key general motives predict or at least influence
intention and behavior.
1. Attitude toward the behavior. The degree to which a person has a favorable or unfavorable evaluation or
appraisal of the behavior in question.
2. Subjective norm. A social factor representing the perceived social pressure for or against the behavior.
3. Perceived behavioral control. The perceived ease or difficulty of performing the behavior, assumed to
reflect past experience and anticipated obstacles.13
Putting the Theory into Practice Theories are developed from observation and prove their usefulness in
application. Let’s demonstrate this with Ajzen’s theory. Consider the behavior of patients lying to doctors and
doctors lying to patients. See the ProblemSolving Application below. Read the example and answer the
questions posed under “Your Call.”
problem solving application
Why Do Patients Lie to Doctors and Doctors Lie to Patients?
Doctors are cautious about what patients say. “It’s a rule many residents learn in training. If a patient says he has
four drinks a week, consider it eight. The same for cigarettes and illicit drugs, doctors say.” Kevin Campbell, a
cardiologist from North Carolina, noted that he had patients who claimed to have stopped smoking, yet smelled
like cigarettes when they came in to his office. Why does this happen when lying can lead to the wrong
diagnosis, wrong treatment, and wrong prescriptions?
Some lie for fear of a bad diagnosis or hospitalization. Others lie in order to get the preferred handicapped
parking permit or moodaltering drugs. Doctors also note that some patients lie for more positive reasons, such
as avoiding embarrassment or disappointing the doctor. “Others worry about electronic medical records or
information being communicated to employers, insurance companies, or the authorities.” Parents also lie about
their children when they believe that they will be judged.
It works both ways. A recent survey of physicians revealed that 10 percent told patients things that were untrue.
Fifty percent of these doctors “told patients something that was untrue in the previous year. More than half said
they described a prognosis in a more positive manner than warranted, and about 20% admitted to not fully
disclosing a mistake to a patient due to fears of litigation.” Other doctors reported using a “generalized
diagnosis” instead of a specific illness like schizophrenia so as to not alarm patients.14
If we apply Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior (see Figure 2.2) to the patient who underreports his drinking,
we might analyze his behavior as follows:
1. Because he does not see his existing alcohol intake as problematic, he has no reservations about telling a
white lie (attitude toward the behavior).
2. He might believe most people underreport their drinking behavior to doctors (subjective norm). One
would not want to be labeled an alcoholic.
3. He sees little downside risk or difficulty in undereporting his intake (perceived behavioral control).
The result? The patient proceeds to lie to the doctor.
YOUR CALL Apply the 3Stop ProblemSolving Approach.
Stop 1: What is the problem in this example?
Stop 2: What are the causes of the problem?
Stop 3: What would you do to correct this situation?
Research and Practical Applications According to the Ajzen model, someone’s intention to engage in a given
behavior is a strong predictor of that behavior. For example, if you want a quick way to determine whether a
worker will quit his or her job, have an objective third party ask the worker if that is what the worker is
intending. The answer is likely to be accurate. Research supports this conclusion15 and the prediction that
intentions are influenced by the three general motives in Ajzen’s model.16
So if we want to change behavior we should look at intentions and how we might modify them by working on
the three general motives shown in Figure 2.2. Managers may be able to influence behavioral change by doing
or saying things that affect the three determinants of employees’ intentions to exhibit a specific behavior: attitude
toward the behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. In your own life, if you want to
exercise more, you should start by changing your intentions about exercising and your associated beliefs about
Let’s consider another practical illustration that has happened to many of our students. It involves a lack of equal
contribution among team members on class projects. Have you ever wanted a classmate to increase the quality
of his/her work on a team project? If yes, Ajzen’s model can be used to help you get the desired behavior. Start
by trying to create a positive intention to contribute highquality work. You might do this by telling the person
that getting a good grade will increase everyone’s chances of getting higher grades and a better job upon
graduation (attitude toward the behavior). Next, role model the desired behavior by producing good work
yourself and recognize others who do the same. This should increase the subjective norm about doing high
quality work. Finally, talk to the individual about any obstacles getting in the way of highquality work and
discuss solutions for overcoming them. We expect that this will increase the person’s perceived behavioral
The Lever of Information In the workplace, one of the simplest levers managers can use to change behavior is
information. Management provides information to employees daily. Standard organizational information that
can affect motivation includes:
Reports on the organization’s culture.
Announcements of new training programs.
News on key managers.
Updates to human resource programs and policies.
Announcements of new rewards of working for the company.
EXAMPLEAlston & Bird Engages Employees through Its Words and Deeds
Managing partners at the firm wanted to boost employee morale after the Great Recession in 2008–2009.
Richard Hays, managing partner at the firm, decided that increased communication would help. “We started
town hall meetings and initiated an online suggestion box,” he says, “where employees could comment (or vent)
about anything on their minds.” He also spent more time in offices outside of Atlanta to communicate with
geographically dispersed employees.
Town hall meetings like this were used at Alston & Bird to increase communication with employees. Do you
think such meetings are useful? Why?
The company also tried to make the work environment more enjoyable by installing chair massages and
employees’ favorite coffee on all floors. To help employees manage work–life balance issues, it instituted onsite
day care, offered onsite dining, and provided financial experts once a quarter to assist employees in their short
and longterm financial planning. Hays concluded that these actions “convey a message to employees that you
1. What beliefs do you have about Alston & Bird?
2. What type of performance intentions would the company’s actions help create?
3. Would you like to work at Alston & Bird?
All such messages reinforce certain beliefs, and managers may consciously use them to influence behavior. For
example, if management wants to improve employee retention, it can provide information or implement policies
that underscore the value of staying at the company.
Such efforts extend beyond perception into programs that can benefit the workplace. This is precisely what
happened at Alston & Bird, an Atlanta law firm that was rated as the 40th best place to work by Fortune in 2014
(see Example box above). The company wanted to enhance employees’ beliefs about the value of staying at the
firm rather than taking a job elsewhere.
1. Based on the theory of planned behavior, how might you improve your attitude about studying for this
2. How can you influence the social norms about studying for classes?
3. Assume you want to get a good job upon graduation. What does the theory of planned behavior suggest
that you should start or continue doing?
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