creating a new social norm for hearing care

Part 2: Tools for Shaping Attitudes to Hearing Care

Shaping attitudes

Attitudes help us to find our way in an incredibly complex world. They're like having a guide book that tells us what to avoid and what to approach.

In Part 2 we look at how attitudes work and how they are shaped by the signals we pick up.


The world is an incredibly complex place. There are so many things competing for our attention and demanding things from us that somehow we need to make sense of it all: to work out what's good for us and what's not. We need some way of quickly assessing what to avoid and what to approach.

Attitudes vary in strength (or valency). At one extreme we have very strong, positive attitudes, where someone will generally like something and therefore want to approach it. At the other end we have strongly negative, where someone will generally dislike something and want to avoid it. But in the middle, we have a neutral (or ambivalent) attitude.

Attitudes work on a scale of strength: negative, neutral, positive

People form attitudes in two different ways, depending on how relevant or important something is to them: "ready-made" attitudes, or forming them directly from the raw ingredients. If we want to shape attitudes to hearing care then we need to understand how both of these work and how to influence them.

If the people we want to reach do not consider hearing aids to be relevant to them, then the ready-made attitudes that are currently available to them are obviously sending out the wrong message, because it's telling them that they should be avoiding hearing aids.

We therefore need to give them a new set of "ready-made attitudes" that point them in the right direction. This means changing the social norm.

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How to increase hearing aid adoption by shaping attitudes

Recorded at the Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark in August 2012 as part of the 5th International Oticon Conference