Attitude is a conditioned propensity to assess individuals, problems, entities in a certain form and give a specific reaction to them. Attitudes are a mixture of values and emotions and can be influenced by societal factors. It is lasting evaluations of various aspects of our social world.
Characteristics of Attitude
- Attitudes are the result of learning. They are acquired through the process of socialization.
- Attitudes are n enduring/long-lasting. They are not subject to easy change.
- Attitudes are held by the individual because they perform some functions for the holder.
- Attitudes can be held by the individual as well as the group.
- Attitudes conform to the “Principle of Consistency”.
- Attitudes can be expressed both verbally as well as non-verbally.
- Attitudes reflect our readiness for response
- Attitudes are subjective experience (a result of individual experiences)
- Attitudes are evaluated judgments.
- Attitudes vary in degree and directions
- Attitudes imply a subject-object relationship.
- Attitudes are communicated (making someone understand through your approach/attitude)
- Expression of attitude is in principle “intelligible”.
Functions of Attitude
- Need or want satisfaction function
- Knowledge Function or Understanding function
- Ego-Defensive function
- Value expressive function
Components of Attitude
- Cognitive component – Refers to our belief and opinions about the attitude object. This belief and opinions may or may not be factually correct. The cognitive component of attitude shares a reciprocal relationship with the effective component.
- Effective component – Refers to our feelings and emotions towards the attitude object. Generally, one approaches the attitude object with mixed feelings. Our effective component provides us energy for our actions and makes our attitudes an evaluative tool.
- Action tendency – It refers to our behavioral readiness in other words our tendency or predisposition to respond in a specific way towards an Attitude object. Action tendency components merely indicate individuals’ behavior readiness and this may or may not manifest in the form of an overt response.
These three components of attitude are generally consistent with one another and as well as with the surrounding environment.
Factors influencing attitude-behavior link are as follows:
- Attitude strength: The stronger is the underlying attitude, the higher is the likelihood of attitude cognisant behavior being executed or displayed. Attitudes formed through direct experience are generally stronger than those found to indirect experience.
- Attitude specificity: Specific attitudes are much effective predictors of behavior than general attitudes.
- Attitude relevance: The great is the relevance of the given attitude in the realization of the cherished goal object, the stronger will be the attitude-behavior link.
- Attitude accessibility: The greater is the individuals’ awareness regarding his underlying attitudes, the higher is the possibility that he will bring this attitude more sharply into focus as the behavior is being contemplated and the stronger is the attitude-behavior link.
- Situational factors: We are less likely to display our true attitudes if we believe that others hold a different attitude regarding the same object.