Percent of audience with a favorable (or unfavorable) attitude toward the product, practice, or service
“Favorable attitude” is defined as a person’s positive assessment of a behavior or related construct (such as a specific product or source of service). “Unfavorable attitude” is defined as a person’s negative assessment of a behavior or related construct. The assessment is expressed by statements from the audience that relate the behavior to a positive or negative value held by the audience.
This indicator is calculated as:
(Number of audience members with a favorable [or unfavorable] attitude toward the product, practice, or service/Total number of audience members) x 100
Evaluators measure attitude by asking audience members how strongly they agree or disagree with these statements, usually in terms of the following five-point (Likert-type) scale:
The statements must all correspond to the same behavior, product, or issue. Evaluators calculate the overall attitude score as the average of the scores from each of the statements used. The higher the average score, the more positive the audience’s attitude towards the behavior. (Note: evaluators must reverse scores from negatively worded statements before they compute the average. For example, on a questionnaire about stigma toward HIV, a respondent “strongly disagrees (score=1) with a statement that HIV-positive persons should be quarantined from the rest of society. If most of the items on the scale are worded such that a “5” represents supportive attitudes toward persons with HIV, then the evaluators should convert the “1” on this question about quarantining HIV-positive persons to a “5” before the average is computed.)
If the evaluator uses the five-point scale, he/she can also combine the “agree” and “strongly agree” responses to obtain the percentage of the audience with a positive attitude. Examples of attitudinal statements with the underlying values underlined include:
Attitude towards family planning:
- Practicing family planning helps a woman regain her strength before having her next baby;
- Practicing family planning eliminates the fear of getting pregnant; and
- Family planning encourages a wife to become promiscuous.
Attitude towards condom use:
- Using condoms reduces sexual pleasure;
- Using condoms helps prevent HIV infection; and
- Using condoms is a sign of infidelity.
Respondents express their values in terms of the expected outcome of the behavior, expected benefit or harm, or positive and negative attributes of the behavior or product.
This indicator can be disaggregated by product, practice, or service or audience characteristics (age, sex, geographic location, rural/urban status, or other characteristics of interest to the program).
Quantitative: national, regional, or local sample surveys with members “preferably a representative sample” of the intended audience.
Qualitative: focus groups, in-depth interviews, pilesorts, ethnographic observation, knowledgeable informant panels.
Attitudes influence all types of social behavior. People generally act in ways consistent with their attitudes. Attitudes may more strongly influence intention than does behavior per se. For example, a person’s negative attitude towards smoking may create a strong intention (desire) to stop smoking, but the person may continue smoking because of other factors, such as prevailing social norms and addiction. Communication programs often address the specific beliefs and values that encourage or discourage a particular practice or behavior. In some societies, for example, men believe they have the right to many sexual partners. Mass media programs can begin to alter that behavior if they portray it as socially unacceptable, harmful to one’s family, and threatening to one’s own health because it increases the risk of HIV infection.
Attitude change (and reinforcement) is one of the ways communication programs indirectly influence health behavior. Audience members who change or strengthen their attitude because of exposure to the messages of a communication program are more likely to engage in the desired behavior (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975).
Response bias may be an issue with respondents claiming to have a certain attitude toward a product, practice, or service because they are conscientious that is the attitude they should have, even if that is not how they personally feel.
As with intent, developing a positive attitude toward a practice, product, or service does not necessarily translate into future behavior change.