Behavior Before Attitudes

by Ben Perreira

A reasonable perspective on human behavior would be that a person has an attitude (likes dogs) and subsequently performs a behavior (adopts a dog). This certainly happens.

However, the psychological mechanism that is self-justification means that these actions can be inverted to the same end. That is, a person performs a behavior then adopts an attitude consistent that that behavior. 

Whether it is pushing ourselves as athletes or walking through a busy-yet-familiar train station, much of what we do tricks our minds into slipping into cruise control. The habits we develop allow our behavior and attitudes to stay consistent, regardless of which came first. Less energy spent thinking about whether we actually like dogs means more spent on the important things, like playing with dogs.