Attitude Change and Persuasion Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Attitude Change and Persuasion:

The total fertility rate in Singapore has declined to a record low of 1.22 in 2009 and 1.16 in 2010 from 1.28 in 2008. The problem of the low fertility rate is common across the three major ethnic groups in the country. Some of the reasons attributed to this problem include the postponement of marriage and lack of marriages at all by the country's citizens. In addition to this, the married people in Singapore do not have many children. Consequently, the nation's government is exploring ways of solving the problem including encouraging marriage and procreation. The government seeks to encourage marriage through providing incentives for marriage like 50% subsidy to buy HBD flats and a reduction of income tax by 50%. On the other hand, the provision of free medical services for childbirth at governmental hospitals is being considered as a means for encouraging procreation. Additional measures include imposing sanctions to enhance income tax on unmarried working adults.

Singaporeans Attitude Change:

The main reason for the governmental measures to encourage marriage and procreation is to result in attitude change among Singaporeans. Some of the major ways that can be used to assess the effectiveness of these approaches to behavior change among the nation's citizens to result in attitude change is through the theory of psychological reactance and overjustification effect. The psychological reactance theory is an aversive sentimental reaction as means of responding to impositions or legislations that interrupt freedom and independence (Moss, 2008). Psychological reactance is mostly common when people feel obliged to embrace or adhere to a specific opinion or get involved in a particular behavior. The reactance is usually experienced or expressed when there are limitations to a free behavior, which is any decision or act that a person can undertake immediately or very soon.

Based on the theory of psychological reactance, the measures undertaken by the government are unlikely to result in attitude change among Singaporeans though they are geared towards behavior change. This is largely because Singaporeans are likely to view the impositions or regulations as limitations or restrictions on free behavior. Therefore, they will consider the regulations as unfair and unreasonable contributing to psychological resistance of the measures. The main reason for consideration of the restrictions as unfair is that they are regarded as too tough and lead to the activation of a state of reactance. The inability of the measures to result in eventual attitude change emanate from the fact that the reactance provokes a series of reactions that are geared towards re-establishing freedom. Singaporeans are likely to not only engage in practices that oppose the regulations but they are also likely to have unfavorable attitudes towards the governmental sanctions.

In efforts to promote attitude change, the overjustification effect takes place when an unnecessary reward is offered in an apparent attempt to control behavior. In this case, the Singaporean government has offered several unnecessary rewards in order to encourage marriage and procreation such as income tax reductions, subsidies for purchasing HBD flats, and subsidies for basic education (Ramesh, 2011). While the overjustification effect increases people's intrinsic motivation, it has a minimal impact on attitude change. Based on this effect, Singaporeans are unlikely to change their attitude because these people are unlikely to feel the strength of their choices and actions.

Theory of Cognitive Dissonance and Attitude Change:

One of the major ways to promote attitude change among Singaporeans in order to improve the country's fertility rate is through the theory of cognitive dissonance. There are various descriptions that have been established in efforts to define and explain this theory. Some of the descriptions of cognitive dissonance include the fact that it's the mental conflict that people experience when they are presented with proof that their assumptions and beliefs are wrong. Since its psychologically uncomfortable for people to hold contradictory cognitions or assumptions and beliefs, they will be motivated to change their attitudes, cognition, and behaviors ("Cognitive Dissonance," n.d.). The presentation of proof that the underlying beliefs and assumptions are wrong contributes to inconsistency of two simultaneously held cognitions. Therefore, the experience of dissonance is unpleasant to the individual making him/her to strive to lessen it through changing beliefs and attitudes.

The theory of cognitive dissonance has proven to be effective in contributing to attitude change…

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