Attitudes, Behavior, and Social Context: The Role of Norms and Group Membership

By Deborah J. Terry; Michael A. Hogg | Go to book overview

ported functions--the utilitarian function--concerns developing favorable attitudes toward those attitude objects that promote a person's needs or unfavorable attitudes toward attitude objects that contribute punishments. Katz describes this function as "a recognition [sic] of the fact that people strive to maximize the rewards in their external environment and to minimize the penalties" ( Katz, 1960, p. 170). This has, at least superficially, much similarity with the attitude depicted in the TRA and TPB arising out of beliefs usually about consequences or outcomes of some kind, weighted by the evaluation of those potential outcomes. On the other hand, Katz's value--expressive function, which provides the person with "satisfaction from expressing attitudes appropriate to his personal values and to his concept of himself' (p. 170), seems to incorporate an acknowledgment of the role of self-identity. In fact, Shavitt ( 1990) used the term social-identity function in much the same way that Katz used the notion of value-expressive function. Shavitt ( 1989) suggested that different attitude objects elicit different attitude functions: For example, coffee usually serves a utilitarian function, whereas cars may serve a utilitarian function, through providing transport, as well as an identity function through expressing status and identity. Snyder and Debono ( 1987) made a number of interesting suggestions about the ways attitudes may function for different people: For example, attitudes for people with lower self-monitoring scores may serve a value-expressive function to a greater extent than they will for people with higher self-monitoring scores. Additionally, however, one can also easily focus on the idea that attitudes may serve different functions for the same person and that where a conflict exists between different functions (e.g., between utilitarian and social-identity functions) the expression of attitude reflects, or is dominated by, only one of these functions.


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

In this chapter, the structure of the concept of utility is outlined. The ways it is used within the structure of the TRA and the ways the notion of self-identity may be useful for researchers in their attempts to predict people's intentions and behavior are also outlined. As a part of this discussion, it has been suggested that self-identity may also have utility for people in their everyday behavior--as a guide to action, or as a form of commitment in the face of competing interests or wishes that they may have.

Subjective expected utility theory has been judged a poor descriptor of the ways people make decisions or construct their attitudes. People are unlikely to arrive consistently at stable overall summary evaluations in the way that this type of model would suggest. Rather, people, may have conflicting values, attitudes, wishes, and preferences. They use heuristic devices,

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