Attitude Formation: Modeling vs. Direct Experience by Carmen Mowrey

In class today we talked about how attitudes form, particularly through modeling and direct experience. Modeling is when one learns how to act and what to think through watching others. A common example is when children grow up with the same political views as their parents because that is what they were raised with. Direct experience is when someone experiences something and depending on how the experience goes, that is how their situation is formed. In class it was argued that attitudes that are formed through direct experience are stronger and more resistant to change. I can fully attest to this belief through a situation that involves ice skating.

I usually am not one who likes to try new things, and I definitely like being able to keep my balance easily; so I never have felt a desire to go ice skating. For a YW/YM activity, however, it was planned that we would all go ice skating. Everyone was so excited and talked about how fun it really is so I agreed to go. In fact I was even excited. However, as soon as I got on the ice my attitudes toward ice skating dramatically changed. I felt uneasy and although I did not fall hard even once, I quickly made a few loops around the rink and gladly headed back to the carpeted area. A few years later my friends tried to convince me to go ice skating, and took me to a hockey game to show how fun it really was. After seeing non-graceful men plastered in hockey gear slide across the ice, I believed that maybe I would have a better experience this time. I trusted my friends’ attitudes and agreed to go ice skating, hopefully for the last time. Again, I did not fall but I still did not enjoy it.

This scenario relates to attitude formation because originally I believed in my friends’ attitudes: that ice skating was fun. After directly experiencing ice skating, however, I have come to believe that ice skating and me simply do not go together. Therefore, my attitude that was formed through direct experience is stronger and more resistant to change than my friends’ attitudes that I was modeling previous to my experience.

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