Understanding the attitudes of consumers is not an easy feat but we do have some help. According to the functional theory of attitudes, as discussed on page 130 of our text book, attitudes perform four functions; utilitarian, knowledge, value expressive, and ego-defensive.


According to functional theory of attitudes, all attitudes are performing some functions for a person. These functions are utilitarian, knowledge, value expressive and ego-defensive (Babin & Harris, 2015, p.130). Research is going on in the field of consumer psychology and other related fields to identify the different aspects of consumer’s attitude and exploit them to maximize their sale. In this paper, I would like to explain in detail the four functions with examples for their application in consumer psychology.


The utilitarian function of attitude deals with getting recognized and rewarded for different sets of attitudes. This also helps in minimizing punishment and ill treatment from others. In consumer psychology, businesses can focus on introducing products or services that would appeal to the utilitarian function of attitude. New brands and products can be introduced that would make people from a certain age group to identify themselves with their peers, like wearing same clothes. Or an advertiser could say that gift a certain thing to your father on this father’s day which could make him love you more.


Knowledge function of attitude helps a consumer to simplify a purchasing decision. For example if a company has been successful to implant information in the mind of its consumers about the best quality of its product, the consumer would use this knowledge and make a purchasing decision easily. A company can implant this information through advertisement and/or through actually making the quality of the product of higher level so that the consumer becomes a loyal customer and opts for the company for future purchases.

Value Expressive

This function of attitude enables a consumer to be expressive about their values and what they really believe. This function is related to a person’s self-concept. So if a consumer supports green peace, companies might exploit this information and offer products related to living a green and environment friendly life. Companies dealing in solar energy can utilize this information.


This function of attitude is used when the consumer do not want to take the responsibility for any negative behavior they are showing. This acts like a defense mechanism which serves the ego of the consumers. This function could lead to avoiding or denying scientific facts. For example smokers would ignore information that suggest that smoking is not good for health (Babin & Harris, 2015, p.130).


I would like to conclude my discussion by pointing out that different aspects of human behavior like human attitude is a source of understanding their purchasing priorities. Once different aspects of consumer’s purchasing priorities are know, it becomes easy to convince them via advertisement and other means of marketing.



Babin, B. & Harris, E. CB7, 7th Edition.