My Blog Friends

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What People Say is Often Not What People Do

Today's post is taken from a study conducted in 1934 by Richard LaPiere. He traveled with a  Japanese couple around the US and took note of how people reacted to them. Six months later he sent out a questionnaire to the establishments (hotels) they visited and asked them if they would accept Japanese people into their establishments. His observations were all most all positive in how the Japanese couple was treated. There was only once when the couple was turned away. In contrast the questionnaire's where almost all negative. Meaning that when reported on a questionnaire the establishments would have rejected the Japanese couple and not allowed them to stay. 

The study has its flaws, but it brings up a good point. We as people often say one thing but when faced with the situation we act differently. We often say that we would be heroic in the face of danger, but when it comes down to it how would we really react. 

Another question arises from this study and that is how can we tell when what we say will match what we will do? There are five categories that help us know if what a person says is really what that person will do.

1. Strength of the attitude. The stronger you feel about the certain situation or person the more likely you will behave how you say you will behave.

2. Stability of the attitude. The more stable the attitude the more likely you will respond according to the attitude.

3. Relevance of attitude to the behavior. The more specific the attitude is toward the behavior the more likely it will occur. Just because a person says they believe in God it does not mean that they will attend church. However, if you asked them how important is church then you would see a higher correlation.

4. Salience of the attitude. If something is on your mind and it reinforces your attitude the more likely you will behave accordingly.

5. Situational pressure. Depending on the situation that you are in your behavior will Allison more closely to your attitude or farther away.

Our characters have attitudes and they have behaviors. It is important to keep in mind how they align and what makes them align.


  1. This reminds me of the television show "What Would You Do?" (I think that is what it is called.) They set up situations that would make people feel uncomfortable ans see how they would react. Another great post.

  2. huh intersting study...i think you will find sometimes we def speak well before we face the obstance or incident and then do not follow through...for instance a trauma...thinking we could handle it until we are faced with it...

  3. That's interesting, because in real life people were acting more positively than they were on paper. Maybe it's easier to express racist/sexist-type thoughts anonymously? Anyway, great post!

  4. Very interesting experiment. This also reminds me of the same TV program. In one episode, the responsible looking couple didn't react as I thought they would to a set-up about a crying baby, but the guy who looked like he'd walk away, did the right thing.

    You know, of course, when a gal says she isn't hungry, she's er, well, not hungry, LOL!


Comments are what help us all learn together.

Friends Meetup Party - the perfect line