This research alone suggests how individuals will rationalize their behavioural attitude to fit in with others. Lesko (1994) noted that it was bizarre how an individual’s behaviour can change without affecting one’s attitude. He went on to state that the very nature of attitude cannot be revoked once it has already been established (Lesko, 1994, p.114.) When evaluating previous research that has been carried out on attitudes in the past. It has become apparent that there are problems in the way social psychologists have tried to measure attitudes.
One such problem was the application of questionnaire surveys as found in the La Piere’s study. Although questionnaires/surveys are an effective way of generalizing a relationship between specific behavioural traits and attitudes whilst carrying out a case study or thereafter, they have there drawbacks too. Girden (2001) suggested that all participants should have a chance of randomly being selected to represent the population as a whole. If this is the case, then evidence suggests that La Piere’s (1934) did not consider these circumstances when he sent out his surveys after he had returned. One other problem was the fact that out of the 151 establishments he visited, not all establishments returned his questionnaire. Girden (2001) states the importance of actually receiving all of the completed questionnaires, to establish the results. (Girden, 2001, pp.65-66.)
If one were to replicate La Piere’s (1934) study in the future, one would have to reconsider how to apply the questionnaire to the participants. Firstly the questionnaire/survey would not be posted, and all surveys would be completed after the research to prevent any biases from occurring amongst the participants. This could be carried out via a face-to-face technique where the participant can ask the researcher if they are unsure of a question. Secondly a control group would be applied to the case study to differentiate the expectant outcome and the individual’s behavioural reactions. Thirdly all the participants would be randomly chosen from a particular area or field where they are matched on their abilities, once again to prevent biases (Coolican, 1996, pp.81-96.)
When analyzing Festingers (1959) cognitive dissonance theory. Southwick et al (1981) have noted that distraction techniques have been utilized to assist individuals whom are addicts e.g. alcoholics (Baron and Byrne, 2002, p.118.) It is here that therapies are expected to have a higher success rate. Yet Lesko (1994) suggested that there has been very little research evidence to support the assumption (Lesko, 1994, p.114.)
Moreover, humanistic theorists Rogers (1951) criticised the cognitive explanation of human behavioural attitudes being linked to an information processing system. Plus Maslow (1968) stressed that humanistic therapists needed to understand the person as a whole, not each separate bit of behaviour, as suggested via cognitive models. Rogers (1951) later recognised the importance of measuring behavioural attitudes it is here that he developed the Q-sorts methodology. This technique alone has enabled many social psychologists to study human behaviour, attitudes, environmental interactions and many other areas that have enhanced one’s understanding of behavioural relationships. (Gross, 2001, pp.19-20.)
In conclusion one has recognised the importance of choosing the correct methodological procedure to measure behavioural attitudes. Past research has identified the different issues that can occur if one does not apply the measurement in the correct way. Future research therefore needs to take into account the very nature of behavioural attitudes, and the external factors that can attribute to ones attitude and beliefs. After all social psychology research has enabled us to understand and assist individuals with addictions, phobias, and health issues.
Baron, R.A. ; Byrne, D. (2002) Social Psychology, 10th edition. London: Allon and Bacon publishers.
Brigham, J. C. ; Wrightman, L.S. (1982) Contempory Issues in Social Psychology, 4th edition. United States of America: Brooks/Cole publishers.
Elser, J.R. (1986) Social Psychology Attitudes, Cognition and Social Behaviour. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.
Gross, R. (2001) Psychology the Science of Mind and Behaviuor, 4th edition. London: Hodden ; Stoughton.
Hewstone, M. ; Stroebe, N.(2001) Introduction to Social Psychology, 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell publishers.