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Attitude is a hypothetical construct that represents an individual's like or dislike for an item. Attitudes are positive, negative or neutral views of an "attitude object": i.e. a person, behavior, event, item, or entity. People can also be "ambivalent" towards a target, meaning that they simultaneously possess a positive and a negative bias toward the attitude object in question. Gordon Allport once stated that the attitude "is probably the most distinctive and indispensiable concept in contemporary American social psychology" (Allport, 1935).
Conceptualization of attitudes
As Evaluative Dispositions
In its inception, the attitude was conceptualized as a disposition (e.g. Ajzen, 1984; Chein, 1948; Davis & Ostrom, 1984), much like other acquired behavioral dispositions including concepts, habits, and schemas, to name a few (Campbell, 1963). This dispositional approach to attitudes has been criticized due to the growing body of research on attitude change, particularly the attitude construction approach.
As Evaluative Tendencies
In one well-known approach, Eagly & Chaiken (1993; 2007) conceptualize attitudes as evaluative tendencies, which they state accomodates both they enduring and change nature of evaluations.
As Temporary Constructions
Alternatively, the attitude construction approach to attitudes (e.g. Schwarz, 2007) construes the attitude as an evaluative state, rather than a tendency or disposition. According to this approach, evaluations of attitude objects are formed when needed, such as encountering the attitude object or thinking of the attitude object, and do not exist within memory or outside of the time of evaluation. Several models within this approach argue that attitudes are constructed on the fly from accessible representations of the attitude object (Bassili & Brown, 2005; Conrey & Smith, 2007; Lord & Lepper, 1999). The attitude construction approach argues that when attitudes appear to persist across time (i.e., individuals are giving consistent evaluative responses), what is actually consistent are the inputs (e.g. mental representations, contexts) that are used in constructing the temporary attitude.
Implicit and explicit attitudes
There is also considerable research on "implicit" attitudes, which are unconscious but have effects (identified through sophisticated methods using people's response times to stimuli). Implicit and "explicit" attitudes seem to affect people's behavior, though in different ways. They tend not to be strongly associated with each other, although in some cases they are. The relationship between them is not fully understood.
Attitude may also be seen as a form or appearance that an individual assumes to gain or achieve an egotistic preference, whether it is acceptance, manifestation of power or other self-centered needs. Attitude may be considered as a primitive attribute to the preservation of the self or of the ego.
Unlike personality, attitudes are expected to change as a function of experience. Tesser (1993) has argued that hereditary variables may affect attitudes - but believes that they may do so indirectly. For example, if one inherits the disposition to become an extrovert, this may affect one's attitude to certain styles of music. There are numerous theories of attitude formation and attitude change.
- Main article: Attitude formation
Factors that affect attitude change
Attitudes can be changed through persuasion. The celebrated work of Carl Hovland, at Yale University in the 1950s and 1960s, helped to advance knowledge of persuasion. In Hovland's view, we should understand attitude change as a response to communication. He and his colleagues did experimental research into the factors that can affect the persuasiveness of a message:
- Main article: Attitude change
Emotion and Attitude Change
Emotion is a common component in persuasion, social influence, and attitude change. Much of attitude research emphasized the importance of affective or emotion components (Breckler & Wiggins, 1992). Emotion works hand-in-hand with the cognitive process, or the way we think, about an issue or situation. Emotional appeals are commonly found in advertising, health campaigns and political messages. Recent examples include no-smoking health campaigns and political campaign advertising emphasizing the fear of terrorism.
- Main article: Emotion and attitude change
- Main article: Attitude measure
Attitude in the workplace
When it comes to Human Resource Management and recruiting, in recent years hire for attitude became a well known mantra. Several commercial tests such as the LAB Profile, Nowhere is your positive attitude more required and appreciated by others than your workplace. There are sound reasons for this: about 30% of an employee’s waking hours are spent at the workplace. Without some positive people around, this time could become troublesome. iWAM and PAPI were developed to measure work Attitude and motivation, e.g. for pre-employment testing
- Main article: Employee attitudes
- Main article: Employer attitudes
- Main article: Job applicant attitudes
- Main article: Occupational attitudes
Researchers into attitudes
Attitudes amongst groups
- Adolescent attitudes
- Adult attitudes
- Child attitudes
- Client attitudes
- Consumer attitudes
- Counsellor attitudes
- Health personnel attitudes
- Parental attitudes
- Racial and ethnic attitudes
- Student attitudes
- Teacher attitudes
Attitudes towards groups
Attitudes towards concepts or behaviors
- Aging (attitudes towards)
- Childrearing attitudes
- Community attitudes
- Computer attitudes
- Death Attitudes
- Doxastic attitudes
- Drug usage attitudes
- Eating attitudes
- Environmental attitudes
- Family planning attitudes
- Health attitudes
- Homosexuality (attitudes toward)
- Marriage attitudes
- Obesity (attitudes toward)
- Physical illness (attitudes toward)
- Political attitudes
- Psychologist attitudes
- Religious attitudes
- Sex role attitudes
- Sexual attitudes
- Socioeconomic class attitudes
- Work (attitudes toward)
- Attitude similarity
- Cognitive dissonance
- Elaboration likelihood model
- Impression formation
- Irrational beliefs
- List of thinking-related topics
- Planned behavior
- Propositional attitude
- Public opinion
- Religious beliefs
- Stereotyped attitudes
- World view
References & Bibliography
- Ajzen, I. (1988) Attitudes, Personality and Behaviour, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
- Google Scholar
- Abelson, R.P. (1976) Script processing in attitude formation and decision making. In: J.S. Carroll and J.W. Payne (eds) Cognition and Social Behaviour, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Ajzen, I. and Fishbein, M. (1977) Attitude-behaviour relationships: a theoretical analysis and review of empirical research, Psychological Bulletin 84: 888-918.
- Ajzen, I. and Fishbein, M. (1980) Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behaviour, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
- Ajzen, 1., Timko, C. and White, J.B. (1982) Self-monitoring and the attitude-behaviour relation, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 42: 426-35.
- Allport, G. W. (1935). Attitudes. In C. Murchison (Ed.), A handbook of social psychology (pp. 798-844). Worcester, MA: Clark University Press.
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