Assignment: 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.


Understanding the attitudes of consumers


The functional theory of attitude describe four functions i.e. utilitarian, knowledge, value expressive and ego-defensive as the underline basis for human attitudes (Babin & Harris, 2015, p.130). It is true that understanding human attitudes is not an easy task as it involves not only understanding the needs and wants of consumers but also the internal psychological phenomenon that are responsible for the development of attitudes that create these needs and wants. This calls for a huge amount of money spent on researches like these in understanding the attitudes of the consumers and the motivation that is created by them. The aim of this paper is to shed some light on the four functions that are performed by attitudes and that motivate human and how these concepts are utilized in the field of consumer psychology.


            Human attitude is shaped in a way that it is utilized to save humans from the bad consequences of their functions and performance. Utilitarian function of attitude deals with this aspect of humans wanting to be recognized for their achievements. This concept is really helpful for marketers to understand the ways consumers can be influenced in letting them know that they are important and they deserve to be rewarded for the hard work they do or their other actions. For example a tea brand might show a person who has been working hard at his/her office and when they come to home they are offered with a cup of tea that rewards in the form of taking all the tiredness away. This is a simple trick but really effective in attracting the consumers.


            Knowledge helps us in solving life issues. We gather knowledge in our minds and use it when we face life issues to quickly solve these problems. Marketers could also do the same by first creating metaphorical problems and then suggesting solutions to these problems. For example an advertisement might tell the audience they need really good looking hair to be successful in getting a good job. The unemployment people who are looking for jobs will definitely digest this information and this could become a source of their knowledge when they are making a purchasing decision to buy a Shampoo.

Value Expressive

            Some consumers might have an attitude that results in openness about their values and what they believe is right and wrong. Mostly people have cognitive schemas that enable them form concepts about themselves and the outside world. These schemas are then used in establishing a point of view. In the field of consumer psychology, this expressiveness can be utilized in influencing consumers buy items related to different social and religious events. Consumers would consider these items as the true representatives of their values and believe systems.

Ego Defensive

            Ego defenses are related to the functions of human attitudes in which humans are able to justify actions that would otherwise make us feel guilty. For example the children who are not good at studies may say that study is not important as they are good at sports and that is what is the most important thing and vice versa. What advertiser can do is target ego defensive in either way. They can either reinforce them or they can have a message to bring changes in your attitude. For example if you are afraid of flying an airplane and believe it’s useless,  an advertisement can say that try travelling in a ship or they might say change your habit and try travelling in a plane as it is safe and fun.


Babin, B. & Harris, E. (2015). CB7. Mason, Ohio: South-Western.