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Attitudes

Attitude is the expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event. Attitude is an individual’s own view regarding a certain subject. Multiple factors are responsible for the formation of attitudes. Additionally, attitudes can be learned and unlearned through various methods throughout our lives.

Last updated: Aug 12, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Background of Attitudes

Attitude is a set of beliefs, ideas, and behavioral tendencies directed at an object or event or toward other people. Attitude can be positive or negative and can be influenced by a number of different factors, some of which are listed below:

  • Family has a very important role in developing one’s attitude toward certain things. For example, a person whose family and parents are highly qualified in academics will develop a positive attitude toward their studies.
  • Psychological factors such as beliefs, ideas, culture, and the surrounding environment. For example, if a child believes that his parents are always scolding him, he is going to develop a negative attitude toward his parents.
  • Society: If something is considered to be wrong in a person’s society, they will eventually develop a negative attitude toward it.
  • Economic factors: An individual develops favorable attitudes toward people and objects that satisfy their wants (this includes salary and work) and unfavorable attitudes toward those that do not satisfy their wants.

Attitude Evaluation

Multiple psychological models have been proposed to evaluate the structure of attitudes, the two most well-known models are described below:

ABC model

The ABC model comprises the following components:

  • Affective refers to the emotions, perceptions, and feelings toward an object, or simply, how a person feels about something. For example, a person who is scared of snakes would feel fear and anxiety Anxiety Feelings or emotions of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (attitude) upon seeing a snake Snake Limbless reptiles of the suborder serpentes. Snakebites (object).
  • Behavioral refers to the behaviors or actions toward the specific object due to attitude. For example, a person who is scared (attitude) of snakes (object), may run away, scream, call for help, or climb a tree if they encounter a snake Snake Limbless reptiles of the suborder serpentes. Snakebites. This behavior can be due to past experiences or may be innate.
  • Cognitive refers to the knowledge and beliefs one has about the object and associated attitude, or simply, what one thinks about an object. For example, a person may think snakes are dangerous. The knowledge that a snake Snake Limbless reptiles of the suborder serpentes. Snakebites is dangerous will form the attitude toward it.

MODE model

The MODE (motivation and opportunity as determinants [of the relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship between attitude and behavior]) model states that attitudes can be measured in 2 different ways:

  • Explicit measure: These attitudes are deliberately formed at a conscious level and can guide decisions and behavior. The explicit attitudes are mostly affected by recent events, and the person is aware of their attitudes.
  • Implicit measure: These attitudes are unconscious Unconscious Those forces and content of the mind which are not ordinarily available to conscious awareness or to immediate recall. Psychotherapy beliefs that influence our decisions and behavior. These attitudes are often derived from past memories that are deeply seated in our unconscious Unconscious Those forces and content of the mind which are not ordinarily available to conscious awareness or to immediate recall. Psychotherapy.

Learning Theory of Attitudes

The learning theory of attitudes states that attitudes can be learned and unlearned through the use of principles such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning Operant conditioning Learning situations in which the sequence responses of the subject are instrumental in producing reinforcement. When the correct response occurs, which involves the selection from among a repertoire of responses, the subject is immediately reinforced. Psychotherapy, and observational learning.

Classical conditioning involves learning a new behavior or attitude through the process of association between a neutral stimulus and a stimulus that naturally produces a behavior. Simply put, the 2 factors are linked together to produce a newly learned response. For example, if a person likes a certain perfume, they will find a person who is wearing that perfume attractive.

Operant conditioning Operant conditioning Learning situations in which the sequence responses of the subject are instrumental in producing reinforcement. When the correct response occurs, which involves the selection from among a repertoire of responses, the subject is immediately reinforced. Psychotherapy is a process of learning a new behavior or attitude by receiving rewards or punishments (reinforcement) to produce a desired response. The behavior can be increased or decreased depending on the consequences of the response. For example, an employee who receives a monetary bonus (consequence/reinforcement) after completing a task on time will be encouraged to repeat that behavior. Similarly, a salary reduction for arriving to work late will encourage an employee to be punctual.

Observational learning (also known as modeling) involves learning by watching and imitating others. For example, a child may learn to play basketball by observing other children playing that game.

Operant conditioning diagram

Operant conditioning Operant conditioning Learning situations in which the sequence responses of the subject are instrumental in producing reinforcement. When the correct response occurs, which involves the selection from among a repertoire of responses, the subject is immediately reinforced. Psychotherapy diagram

Image: “ Operant conditioning Operant conditioning Learning situations in which the sequence responses of the subject are instrumental in producing reinforcement. When the correct response occurs, which involves the selection from among a repertoire of responses, the subject is immediately reinforced. Psychotherapy diagram” by Curtis Neveu. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

The cognitive dissonance theory states that we have an innate and powerful desire to keep all of our attitudes and beliefs consistent and in harmony. When there is an inconsistency, conflict, or disharmony between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), it produces a feeling of discomfort and a desire to eliminate the dissonance.

For example, if a person who smokes (behavior) knows that smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases causes cancer (cognition), this will create cognitive dissonance and psychological stress Psychological stress Stress wherein emotional factors predominate. Acute Stress Disorder that they will want to eliminate or reduce.

Cognitive dissonance can be reduced by 1 of the following 3 methods:

  1. Change the behavior or attitude. For example, quit smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases.
  2. Get the latest knowledge that outweighs the older belief or knowledge. For example, if there is new research Research Critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation, having for its aim the discovery of new facts and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or the practical application of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws. Conflict of Interest that proposes that smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases alone will not cause cancer and that there are other factors that play a role in its pathogenesis, then this will reduce the dissonance for a person when they smoke.
  3. Minimize the importance of the belief. For example, a person can believe that life is short and should be enjoyed to the fullest, leading them to continue to smoke even though smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases is injurious. Minimizing the importance of cognition would reduce the dissonance.

The classic story of the hungry fox and sour grapes also illustrates cognitive dissonance. When the hungry fox sees the grapes hanging on a tree, he is tempted to eat them, bu because they are hanging too high, he cannot reach them. So he comes up with the excuse that grapes are sour. In this story, the fox is reducing its dissonance by believing that the grapes are sour and not worthy of repeated attempts to get them.

References

  1. Allport, G.W. (1935) Attitudes. In: Murchison, C., Ed., Handbook of Social Psychology, Clark University Press, Worcester, MA, 798-844.
  2. Ajzen, I. (2001). Nature and operation of attitudes. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2001. 52:27–58. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Icek-Ajzen/publication/12181656_Nature_and_Operation_of_Attitudes/links/0a85e539b1b0b7acc9000000/Nature-and-Operation-of-Attitudes.pdf
  3. Vogel, T., Bohner, G., & Wanke, M. (2014). Attitudes and Attitude Change. Psychology Press.

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