How is attitude different from behaviour? What are the reasons for attitude-behaviour incongruency?

How is attitude different from behaviour? What are the reasons for attitude-behaviour incongruency?


  • Explain the difference between attitude and behaviour
  • Briefly talk about how attitude doesn’t always translate into behaviour with example
  • Give reasons for the A-B incogruency like attitude strength, speicifity etc.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

Attitude is a learned enduring predisposition to behave consistently either in favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to some object/person. Attitude is not the same as behaviour, but it is a behavioural tendency by which people judge or determine something be favourable or unfavourable. When attitude takes the form of action, it becomes behaviour. Thus attitude is a mental response and an intervening variable between stimulus and response.

Attitude towards something does not translate into behaviour. For instance, say your attitude towards junk food is negative since you know that it is bad for health. Yet, you don’t stop eating them. Thus, your attitude is not being converted into behaviour in this case.

Reasons for attitude towards something not translating into behaviour include:

  • Attitude Strength: Weak attitude towards an object rarely corresponds to behaviour. For instance, a person with a weaker negative attitude towards corruption is less likely to act against corruption.
  • True or Expressed Attitude: Expressed attitude can’t determine behaviour. For instance, expressing negative attitude towards a particular shirt so as to get a better bargain does not mean that one does not like the shirt (true attitude is in favour).
  • Attitude Specificity: If your attitude lacks goal or action specificity, it will not translate into behaviour. For instance, general attitude like environment should be protected etc. rarely translates into action while specific attitude like a strict aversion to the use of ACs, paper packs etc to save environment translate into behaviour.
  • Lack of motivation or intention to behaveacts as barrier to attitude-behaviour congruency. Intention is guided by subjective norms (acceptable norms in society) and perceived behaviour control.
  • Impression Management:  Sometimes when you are under observation, you behave according to the attitude of observant. For instance, when we go for UPSC interview, we try to behave according to attitude of the board members. Thus, our own attitude does not translate into behaviour.

So, attitude-behaviour incongruence (A-B incongruence) can be because of many factors. Weak, Expressed, and General attitude will rarely translate into A-B congruency.

Subjects : Ethics – Administrative