Attitude: Definition, Nature and characteristics
An attitude is a positive, negative, or mixed evaluation of an object that is expressed at some level of intensity. Our attitude can vary in strength along both positive affect, and with negative affect, with ambivalence or with apathy and indifference. It usually implies feelings that are either positive or negative. Social psychologists use the term attitude differently. Gordon Allport formulated the following definition: “An altitude is a mental and neural stale of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to ill objects and situations with which it is related.”
Nature of Attitude
- Attitude are a complex combination of things we tend to call personality, beliefs, values, behaviors, and motivations.
- An attitude exists in every person’s mind. It helps to define our identity, guide our actions, and influence how we judge people.
- Although the feeling and belief components of attitude are internal to a person, we can view a person’s attitude from his or her resulting behavior.
- Attitude helps us define how we see situations, as well as define how we behave toward the situation or object.
- Attitude provides us with internal cognitions or beliefs and thoughts about people and objects.
- Attitude cause us to behave in a particular way toward an object or person.
Characteristics of attitudes
Attitude can be characterized by:
- Affective Cognitive consistency: The degree of consistency between the affective and cognitive components influences the attitude—behavior relationship. That is, the greater the consistency between cognition and evaluation, the greater the strength of the attitude-behavior relation.
- Strength: Attitudes based on direct experience with the object may be held with greater certainty. Certainty is also influenced by whether affect or cognition was involved in the creation of the attitude. Attitudes formed based on affect are more certain than attitudes based on cognition
- Valence: It refers to the degree or grade of likeliness or unlikeliness toward the entity/incident. If a person is fairly unconcerned toward an object then his attitude has low valence.
- Direct Experience:An attitude is a summary of a person’s past experience; thus, an attitude is grounded in direct experience predicts future behavior more accurately. Moreover, direct experience makes more information available about the object itself.
- Multiplicity: It refers to the amount of features creating the attitude. For example, one may show interest in becoming a doctor, but another not only shows interest, but also works hard, is sincere, and serious.
- Relation to Needs: Attitudes vary in relative to requirements they serve. Attitudes of an individual toward the pictures serve only entertainment needs, but attitudes of an employee toward task may serve strong needs for security, achievement, recognition, and satisfaction.
Comparison of Attitude and Beliefs
Attitude refers to feelings, beliefs and behaviour predispositions directed towards people, groups, ideas or objects. Attitudes will always have a positive and negative element and have a tendency to behave in a certain way toward that person or object. Attitudes are formed primarily based on underlying values and beliefs.
Beliefs are acquired through real experiences but the original experience related to a particular belief is mostly forgotten. It affects the quality of our work and relationships because we experience what we believe and it is not based on reality. Beliefs govern our experiences. They are an important part of our identity. They may be religious, cultural or moral. Beliefs reflect who we are and how we live our lives.