Attitude consists of the non-observable components of why people engage in given behaviors. Primarily, the psychological characteristics define what people are (Aronson et al., 2019). For instance, in the case of Julie, she is addicted to smoking. Besides, she has also formed a positive attitude towards running to be in shape. Thus, she is experiencing an attitude dilemma since smoking and running do not go together. There are various theories of attitude change that best explain Julie’s situation. For instance, cognitive dissonance theory assesses the incompatibility that an individual might perceive between two attitudes (Levy et al., 2018). In the case of Julie, the attitude of smoking and running are incompatible. However, ignoring one brings discomfort. When an individual tries any form of inconsistency, it makes the person uncomfortable. Thus, the individual attempts to reduce the dissonance resulting in discomfort.
The functional theory discusses how attitudes and efforts are related. According to the theory, compliance occurs when an attitude is formed or changed to gain a favorable impression from other people (Roese & Epstude, 2017). For instance, Julie fancied herself a runner who likes smoking cigarettes, but this did not change the compatibility of cigarette smoking and running. The theory that best explain the situation of Julia is cognitive distance theory. Julia has a dilemma to either keep smoking or stop running or to stop running. While she has the opportunity to change either of her behaviors, she will experience a lot of discomforts because she expresses absolute interest in both of them. Julie has to make the difficult decision that will contribute to her general well-being in terms of health. She must stop smoking and continue running to keep in shape.
Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., & Sommers, S. R. (Eds.). (2019). Social psychology (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Levy, N., Harmon-Jones, C., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2018). Dissonance and discomfort: Does a simple cognitive inconsistency evoke a negative affective state? Motivation Science, 4(2), 95–108. http://dx.doi.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1037/mot0000079
Roese, N. J., & Epstude, K. (2017). The functional theory of counterfactual thinking: New evidence, new challenges, new insights. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 56, pp. 1-79). Academic Press.