Attitudes, theorized as behavioral guides, have long been a central focus of research in the social sciences. However, this theorizing reflects primarily Western philosophical views and empirical findings emphasizing the centrality of personal preferences. As a result, the prevalent psychological model of attitudes is a person-centric one. We suggest that incorporating research insights from non-Western sociocultural contexts can significantly enhance attitude theorizing. To this end, we propose an additional model-a normative-contextual model of attitudes. The currently dominant person-centric model emphasizes the centrality of personal preferences, their stability and internal consistency, and their possible interaction with externally imposed norms. In contrast, the normative-contextual model emphasizes that attitudes are always context-contingent and incorporate the views of others and the norms of the situation. In this model, adjustment to norms does not involve an effortful struggle between the authentic self and exogenous forces. Rather, it is the ongoing and reassuring integration of others' views into one's attitudes. According to the normative-contextual model, likely to be a good fit in contexts that foster interdependence and holistic thinking, attitudes need not be personal or necessarily stable and internally consistent and are only functional to the extent that they help one to adjust automatically to different contexts. The fundamental shift in focus offered by the normative-contextual model generates novel hypotheses and highlights new measurement criteria for studying attitudes in non-Western sociocultural contexts. We discuss these theoretical and measurement implications as well as practical implications for health and well-being, habits and behavior change, and global marketing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Psychology