Results of extensive and various researches have shown that, when the attitude object gives rise to several attitudes, the person often engages in deliberations and processes the different available information with care. When such a situation crops up we usually go by the attributes of the object, the relevant attributes and the likely costs and benefits of the possible behavior. One important attempt to take this entire process into consideration is by applying the principles of reasoned actions and thoughts.
This holds the view that behaviour is rational and that it incorporates several factors which tend to affect consistency between attitude and behaviour. Intentions of a particular behaviour themselves can be predicted from two variables- the person’s attitude towards the behaviour and the subjective social norms. Subjective social norm is a person’s perception of others beliefs about whether a behaviour is appropriate or not. This however means that the subjective social norm provides one form of situational constraint. By logical reasoning test the organisational heads can assess a candidate’s skills in skillfully and logically approaching a problem for finding an appropriate solution.
A person’s attitude about his or her own behaviour is influenced by the beliefs, held about the likely consequences or outcomes of the behaviour and the plausible evaluations, whether positive or negative of each consequence or outcome. In fact the desirability of each possible outcome is weighted by the likelihood of that outcome to occur. Subjective social norm is influenced by the individual’s beliefs, about the reactions of the significant others to the behavior, and his or her motivation to comply with those expectations. In other words, the subjective social norm is predicted by the perceived expectations of significant others weighted by motivation to comply with those expectations.
There are many such instances in which people tend to act promptly without much deliberation, and their actions are automatic and more spontaneous. In such a situation which is mostly emergent and surprising, attitude seems to influence behaviour directly and in seemingly automatic way, and here behavior intention has a little role to play. It is believed that events and memories trigger our attitudes which influence how we should perceive the attitude object. In the meantime, our understanding of how people are expected to behave or our knowledge regarding what is appropriate in such situation is also activated. Both these together, that is our attitudes and what is appropriate in a given situation, determines our overt behavior. So in nutshell it can be said that attitudes guide or shape our behavior through two mechanisms, which operate under somewhat different and opposing conditions. When a person has time to engage in careful and reasoned actions, he tends to weigh each available alternative and then decide how he should go ahead with it.
But in states which are hectic and emergent in nature, such deliberate or reasoned thought processes fail to occur and the person has no time to think over the alternatives. In such cases, our attitude seems to promptly shape our perceptions of the different events, and the associated behavior.