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Attitude

 

Explanations > Theories > Attitude

Description | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Attitudes are:

  • Predispositions towards action.
  • About or towards people and things.
  • Evaluative of people, objects and ideas.
  • Made up of emotional reactions (affective), thoughts and beliefs (cognitive), and actions (behavioral) components.

Strength of attitude increases with accessibility and knowledge about the topic in question. Attitudes are often learned from other people and are often a defining characteristic of groups. It can also be genetic. A strong attitude is very resistant to change.

Attitudes are often shown through deliberate signals. As such, they act as warning systems which allow other people to avoid conflict or making a social faux pas.

Attitudes are most easily changed through social influence and cognitive dissonance.

So What?

Using it

To change attitude, spot and match the balance of affective/cognitive/behavioral components, especially in the person’s self-image. Where there is affective attention, offer emotional arguments. For cognitive listeners, use a rational argument. For the behaviorally focused, do something.

Resisting

Understand your own attitudes and how they appear to other people. When changing your attitude in the company of other people, notice what is causing the change. If one person in particular seems to be pressing your buttons, stop being a puppet. If you cannot stop yourself, leave the room.

See also

Attitude-Behavior Consistency, Positive psychology

References

Eagly and Chaiken, (1993), Eagly and Chaiken, (1998), Fishbein and Ajzen (1975)

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