The Ways of Change - Part 1 - Concepts and Theories

in psychology •  last year  (edited)

Social Reality: Violence, Power, and Change
The Ways of Change
- Part 1 - Concepts and Theories

"We change the world by changing ourselves" - charlie777pt


In this post, part 1 is about the Ways of Change and we will perceive the concepts and theories of attitudes, and in part two in the next post, we will understand the processes that take place in social and individual transformation.

Change as two main forms, one of the individual transformation of the attitudes, and various forms of social change.

Attitudes are " the thoughts feelings and behaviours of the individual are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others" - definition of Social Psychology as a whole by G. W. Allport
Before clarifying the Concept of Change we are going to learn its various types, starting with the conceptualization of Katz that in 1974 divided the transformations in people and society as:
  • Individual - The changes in the psychological subject.
  • Progressive - Gradual changes in a social structure.
  • Radical - Rearrangement of the elements of the social system.
  • Cultural - Change of the beliefs and constructs in the society.
Personality in an individual’s stable patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions, which through interaction, undergoes a process of influence that is inherent in the functioning of groups.
Human attitudes and reactions involve understanding, analysis, planning, decision making, which is a variable in each personality, and so it is necessary to take into account the individual differences in the capacity to understand the underlying causal factors or determinants of feelings, attitudes and behaviors.

Our attitudes are exposed to forms of social influence, revealed in the process of interaction in functional groups, a factor that results in the change of these attitudes and consequently of a person's behavior by the effect of the pressure of others and circumstances.

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." - Thomas Jefferson


1- Attitude Change

1.1 - The concepts

It's very difficult to define the concept of attitude because it is a non-observable intrapsychic social-psychological construct, but let's start to define it as ways of being based in a process of learning, as a form of organization and comprehension of our experience.
We have a predisposition to act in relation to objects, people, and situations, that drive our behaviors and permit its evaluation.

Allport identified the 3 main dimensions of attitudes:

  • The Cognitive Subject, that makes the evaluations of social situations by inferences and behavioral responses based in the perceptual attributes of an object, person or event by their attitudes that are unique as experiences that are shaped by their logic and rational view of reality.
  • The Affective Subject, dealing with our attractions(+) or repulsions(-) in relation to a psychological object stimulation that influence the attitude based in our desires, fears, frustrations, and conflicts that determine the way we behave to an event.
  • The Conative (that I call the Social Subject) that are the result of Affective and Cognitive estimations and correlations that create an intentional pre-disposition to behave in a certain way.
An Attitude is a pre-disposition that influence the person percepts, feels, estimate and action, pre-conditioned by similar experiences with objects or situations.

1.2 - Characteristics

An attitude is an experience construct, as a pre-set psychological model, structured with learning on the basis of social nexus and values and the dynamic of our beliefs used as a referential system for individual experience.
Attitudes have the quality of stability in our lives, defining a structure of our permanent values about people and objects in situations like country origin, racial biases, and political views.
Attitudes have the property of consistency to express a rational and coherent liaison between what we are and what we do.
A negative attitude generates a bad self-concept, self-esteem, and self-image and a positive one boosts the force and consistency of our personality.

According to Argyle, self-concept consists of two parts, self-image, as the way a person sees herself/himself, and the self-esteem, the value that one attributes to oneself.

Self-esteem is the personal judgment of valuation that is expressed in the attitudes that the individual takes upon himself.
The image of the body although it is a different factor of order is also an important part of the self-image, because it is probably the first part of the self-image formed in child, as well as the motor development is correlated with the self-esteem.
"It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome." - William James

1.3 - Theories of Attitude Change

We are going to mention a three of the several theories of attitude change, two about cognitive equlibrium and dissonance, and a third about conduct predictability

1.3.1 - Equilibrium

The cognitive approach sutdies the equilibrated interaction of thoughts and feelings or emotions as organized blocks of perception of objects and people as a referencial of positive relations to generate equilibrium.

This equlibrium is based in three elements, the person affectivily (negative or positive) connected to other person(s) and to objects that can create harmony or desiquilibrium.

1.3.2 - Dissonance

As the theory of equilibrium, the conceptualization of cognitive dissonance is based in cognitive coherence and conssonance.
This theory emphasizes the dissonace between two cognitive elements that are mutual exclusive by logic or opposition.
When we have a lot of information and we know that it is bad to consume lots of sugar, but we keep doing it creates a big dissonance with the knowledge we have about the consequences of that substance to our health.

Dissonance reaveals itself in:

  • Lack of Logic - information we have is incoherent with our actions(stop eating sugar)
  • A Double Role play- the tension resulting form the dissonace between being and acting, like working and have time for our kids.
  • Environment Change - when we change our ambient our attitudes are incongruent to that situation.
  • Situational Factors - Situations that trigger attitudes against our oppinions. Behing an environmental activist will create internal problems if you go to work for an oil company.
  • Attitude Incompatibility - Situations that demand new attitudes against the permanent values of a person, like changing to an upper class and dress the old way.

1.3.3 - Functionalism

The theories of Functionalism have two diffrent approaches, one about attitudes as functions and the other that studies the relations between Attitudes and Behaviors. - Attitudes as Functions

The scientific view of attitudes as functions based in cognitive, afective and social needs. - Attitude/Behavior Relations

This view has a fundamental problem because the attitudes are internal, not observable and not measurable, unlike behaviors that can be seen and measured.
This theories have the focus on identifying attitudes to make prediction of behaviors, used in politics with base of the relation between a positve attitude to a candidate and voting intentions.
In one side attitudes can predict behaviors, like if you smoke weed it is expected that you support legalization and adherence to depenalization movements.

On the other side some approches study the relation between reinforcement or weakning of the binome Attitude/Behavior and find the factors of its coherence, by analysing the intentions of individuals as predictors of conducts.
The intentions are based in the relations between attitudes, the pressure of normative beliefs and a feeling of conformity.
Attitudes have orienting properties to intentions, like if you hate activism you will never go to their manifestations.

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character". Albert Einstein
We stop here part 1 of this post about the conceptualization of Attitudes to go back to the ways of change and in part 2 analyse the processes of Change.

The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior

Attitude influences behavior

Further reading:
Attitude (psychology) - Wikipedia

Last posts in this series on Social Reality: Violence, Power and Change

Social Reality: Violence, Power and Change

A - Violence:

An Introduction to Violence
The Concepts of Violence, Aggression, and Aggressiveness
The Theories on Violence
The influencers of Violence -Part One - Culture and Social Context
The influencers of Violence -Part Two - Social , Cognitive and Environmental Factors
The ascend of Today's Violence

B -Power:

What is Power? - Introduction
The Nature of Power The Dynamics of Power:The Effects and Consequences of Power

C - Change:

Change and Culture
The Theories and Concepts of Change
Factors determining Change - Part 1 - Lite version
Factors determining Change - Part 2 - Complex version

The Ways of Change - Part 1 - Concepts and Theories- this post

Articles from the next series of posts about Social Reality, Violence, Power and Change:
C - Change:(cont.)

The Ways of Change - Part 2 - The Process of Change
A Social Change

References consulted:

Les concepts fondamentaux de la psychologie sociale - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer
La psychologie sociale - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer
The social-violence dynamics, Power, change - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer, Planeta / ISPA, 1980

Gustave-Nicolas Fischer is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology Laboratory at the University of Metz.
French, J. R. P., and Raven, B.H. (1959). The bases of Social Power.
Raven, B. H., and Rubin, J. Z. (1976). Social psychology: People in groups
Castel, R. The metamorphoses of the social question. Voices, 1998.
Moscovici, S. (1976). Social influence and social change. London: Academic Press
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes.
French, J. R. P., Morrison, H. W., and Levinger, G. (1960). Coercive Power and forces affecting conformity
Dahl, R.A. (1957), The Concept of Power.
Giddens, Anthony, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber, 1971.
Grabb, Edward G., Theories of Social Inequality: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives,1990.
Weber, Max, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, 1968.
Lewin, K. (1948) ‘Action Research and Minority Problems’, in G.W. Lewin (ed.), Researching Social Conflicts, New York: Harper and Row
Parsons, T. (1966). Societies: Evolutionary and comparative perspectives.
Levy, A. (1986) Second-order planned change: Definition and conceptualization, Organisational Dynamics,.
Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J.H., Fisch, R. (1974) Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. New York, Norton.

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"Situations that trigger attitudes against our oppinions.""

I resonate. Your example with the environmental activist working for an oil company is a good one. This situational dissonance can even arise merely by being around people who who are having an entirely different consciousness configuration without mutual verbal exchange being necessary at all. I guess this is what happens all the time when we talk about introverts and extroverts, as the latter is more forceful in his power exertion, causing the introvert to recourse. I was especially sensitive when I started going through a complete overhaul of my beliefs from the inside out, a process which was telling me to give me some alone time to establish my introspective learnings.

Thanks a lot for your valuable comment as always.:)
Introspection is the first rule to start any digging work as Freud said.
Has an enigmatic answer I'll say that the introvert/extrovert question is just one because people interacting are just "one inter-experienced being" and that we must be prepared to deal with with the sensations and anxieties of communication that express our personality traits and "cracks".
We must learn how to compensate the exposure to opposite energies that are the same in essence.
I leave a quote for my next post:

"In the field of inter-experience between human beings, we must learn to put us in the place of the others to understand them and ourselves, because both peers permanent values are being virtualized in the process of communication, to improve our resilience for adaptation and the elasticity of our permanent values"- charlie777pt
We can't fight the "energy" of others "invading us", just look for the solution to contain it, in the dark corners of our mind.

Great reply and great snippet of your next article! The "inter-experienced being" hits it perfectly! Once again, all is interconnected, nothing separate!

nice post ... sir...

Thanks imformation