When a 74 year old , starts a youth movement.

We generally hear a lot about the generation gap and the different world they live in.  Interestingly there seems to be one theme and conclusions underlying all the studies on generation gap  – ” Members of different generation don’t get along !”


But what India saw in the “August Krati of 2011” is a “Public Revolution” that is a contrary to the statement above. Anna Hazare, widely known as the last Gandhian, who forced the federal government to agree to introduce stringent anti-graft legislation, has become a rallying point for youths in India.  A 74 year old – “baby boomer” – lead a pro “Gen Y” youth movement.?.


The term youth refers to persons who are no longer children and not yet adults.  Though superficially the youth all over the world exhibits similar [degree of] attitude, [traits of] interests & [deliverance of] opinion but a detailed observation reveals the finer differential characteristics which are crucial. India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less then 24 years of age.


Let’s understand what brought about this attitude change in India.


Attitudes are typically derived from judgments, which everyone makes. In psychology, it is believed that attitudes are rooted in an ABC approach: that is, affect, behavioral change, and cognition.


  1. Affective component: this involves a person’s feelings / emotions about the attitude object. In this case “I am frustrated of corruption”.
  2. Behavioural (or conative) component: the way the attitude we have influences how we act or behave. In this case: “I will do whatever “Little” I can do to fight corruption”.
  3. Cognitive component: this involves a person’s belief / knowledge about an attitude object. In this case: “I believe there is a solution to this menace”.


The attitude of these Youth were changed by a simple act of persuasion. The work of psychologist Carl Hovland in the mid 20th century helped psychologists gain a further grasp on what persuasion entails. Hovland established that attitude change had to be understood as a response to communication. Experimental research was conducted in the following areas as a means of understanding the process of attitude change: target characteristics, source characteristics, message characteristics, and cognitive routes.


Target characteristics are those characteristics that refer to the individual who is receiving and then processing a message. One of these characteristics is intelligence. The more intelligent an individual is, the less likely he or she will be persuaded by a one sided message. Individuals with moderate self esteem are more likely to be persuaded, while those with either high or low self esteem are not. The mood and mind frame of an individual also weighs heavily when we are talking about target characteristics. The agitators were the Average Indian youth almost fully loaded with frustration.


Source characteristics. Attractiveness, expertise, and trustworthiness are all major source characteristics. One of the key variables in source characteristics is credibility. Which Anna had , or was at least perceived to have.


Message characteristics. The exact nature of a particular message can play a major role in persuading individuals. The presentation of both sides i.e. “Camp Anna” and “Political Parties” helped the youth change their attitude.


Finally, there are Cognitive routes. This describes the process whereby a message appeals to a particular individual’s cognitive evaluation and thus helps them change their attitude towards a particular subject. In the main route to persuasion, the Youth were presented with data and subsequently motivated to evaluate that data before arriving at a conclusion that necessitates a change of attitude.


Sure, this was a good case study for Leadership and organisation behaviour scholars.

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