Attitudes change over a given period of time. The process of attitude change is dependent on variables that exist in the daily lives of people and related to the process of socialization as well.
Human nature is social, and therefore, the process of change of attitude is highly influenced by this factor as it is to suit the daily needs of existence and probably survival. The process of attitude change to join a group or a class as well as adjust to a friend or a partner refers to alignment.
Human beings hold differing opinions regarding to almost all the issues, ideas, facts and things, but through the process of alignment, agreement is achieved (Newcomb, 1959).
At times, this may go to progressive or retrogressive extents depending on the intent of two persons and the origin of the influence. Relationships may be entered into in regard to similarity of attitudes which can be formed as a result of attraction, selection or mere of similar attitudes availability.
However, the change in attitudes as well as change of pool of attitudes in relationships requires partners to always engage in active attitude similarity. This is referred to as attitude alignment.
In the language script between two lovers, D and S, there is an attitudinal similarity toward celebrating their anniversary. Attitudinal dissimilarity in regard to how to celebrate it and where to celebrate is also observed between the two lovers.
The importance of celebrating the anniversary is clear between D and S; however, their attitudes toward the method and place are different. Accordingly to S, she is not for the idea of dinning in downtown and watching a movie thereafter. At this point, attitudinal alignment is zero as S chooses to act up to her opinion.
According to the balance theory, imbalance exists between D, S and the method as well as the place of celebration of the anniversary. As a result, tension between D and S is created in their interaction.
Accordingly, this theory proposes that ways of reducing this imbalance that results to tension between the two could be reduced by the less costly strategy of modifying the attitude towards the celebration method and the venue.
Such an outcome can be achieved by changing their own opinions either directly by attempting to influence each other’s views or indirectly by modifying the focus of the issue (Rosenberg & Abelson, 1960).
Communication, as noted by Newcomb (1959), plays a key role in bringing balance to the imbalance situation in the relationship.
Celebrating anniversary, according to D, is an important thing as it marks their foundations of love, and thus it is salient in the relationship. Thus S recognizes the discomfort caused to D and thus decides to resolve the matter by letting D take the lead and consider something else rather than bringing arguments.
S commends D for his attempted suggestions of a different place, though she feels it is not enough. The salience misalignment hypothesis states that greater attitude alignment will occur if both recognize they are against the celebration of anniversary and hence must find a solution to this issue.
By using the principle of the least efforts involved, the issue of celebration of an anniversary will bring attitude alignment between D and S since it does not touch their self-concept or who they are.
As such, the focus of self-hypothesis confirms that a greater alignment will occur on salient attitudinal discrepancies which are not central to the self as well as to the partner. In this case, D will work towards attitude alignment with S in order to gain greater closeness in their relationship.
This is the reason why D downplays actual identification of the method and place of celebration of the anniversary by using communication skills and avoiding arguments.
By choosing to keep it as surprise, both S and D use the least effort principle to improve their relationship and hence confirm the strength of unit relationship hypothesis that observes that attitude alignment will be greater for partners if they value their opinions and they are ready to meet each other half way, as in case of D and S.
Newcomb, T. M. (1959). Individual systems of orientation. In S. Koch (Ed.), Psychology: A study of a science: Vol. 3 (pp. 384-422). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rosenberg, M. J., & Abelson, R. P. (1960). An analysis of cognitive balancing. In C. I. Hovland & M. J. Rosenberg (Eds.), Attitude organization and change: An analysis of consistency among attitude components (pp. 112-163). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.