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Introduction | ATTITUDE | ETHICS 

  • Psychologists define attitude as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. This can include evaluations of people, issues, objects or events. Such evaluations are often favourable or unfavourable but they can also be uncertain at times.
  • Thus we often speak of “mixed feelings” about an individual or an event. An attitude is an expression of favour or disfavour toward a person, place, thing, or event (or the attitude object). Gordon Allport once described attitudes as “the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology.

Definition of Attitude

  • Psychologists have also fine tuned this definition. According to Eagly and Chaiken, an attitude is “a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favour or disfavour.” The evaluations which people make can range from the extremely unfavourable to the extremely favourable, or can be more moderate. Attitudes can be mixed, and with regard to the same object, may vary from time to time.

Salient Features | ATTITUDE | ETHICS 

  • Attitudes are directed towards an object, event, person or organization and give specific reaction to them.
  • Attitude affects group behavior e.g.  Jury service, racial prejudice, work environment, voting pattern and more.
  • They help us understand ourselves and others.
  • They can be  explicit – formed by recent events
  • They can be implicit- derived from past memories and traumatic experiences.
  • They protect us from acknowledging harsh realities of life and thereby help coping up with emotional conflict.
  • They’re situational.
  • Some thinkers say Attitude is permanent, forms habit and becomes predictable
  • Some thinkers say Attitude is tentative- a person will form attitude from his past experience but if new situation comes he’ll evaluate and change attitude. Thus, Attitudes are spontaneous reaction to environment.
  • Persuasion can change attitude of a person. If a trustworthy, expert, likable person says, “rich people’s love for fur-clothes has led to extinction of xyz. Species”. Then next time you see a rich lady, you’ll feel repulsed. We’ll discuss more on persuasion and attitude change in third session of this lecture (E2/P3).

Classification of Attitude | ATTITUDE | ETHICS 

  • Attitudes are classified as explicit and implicit.
  • Explicit Attitude (Conscious) – If a person is aware of his attitudes and how they influence his behaviour, then those attitudes are explicit. Explicit attitudes are formed consciously.
  • Implicit Attitude (Sub-Conscious) – If a person is unaware of his attitudes (beliefs) and how they influence his behaviour, then those attitudes are implicit. Implicit attitudes are formed subconsciously.

Carl jung on Attitude | ATTITUDE | ETHICS 

  • Carl Jung, one of the founders of psycho-analysis, defines attitude as a “readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way”. According to Jung, attitudes occur in pairs out of which one is conscious and the other unconscious. Within this broad definition, Jung defines several attitudes. He identifies the following pairs of attitudes.
Conscious Unconscious
Extroversion Introversion
Rational Irrational
Individual Social
Abstract Creative
  • Jung says that the contents of the conscious and the unconscious parts of the mind are usually different. Introverted individuals are self contained, inward looking and more concerned with their own thoughts than with the outside society.
  • Extroverted individual are outward looking and are keen to spend time in interacting with others. According to Jung, these are the two attitudinal poles or types.
  • Jung divides the rational attitude into two psychological functions i.e. thinking and feeling. He considers reason as an attitude. Logicians differ from this view. They regard logic as a set of objective rules for deriving logical implications of propositions. Another way of putting this is that logic enables us to validly draw conclusions from given premises. Logic is objective, and cannot be part of any subjective attitude.
  • Jung divides irrational attitudes into the two psychological functions of sensing and intuition. We can define ‘sensing’ as receiving impressions or data through sense faculties from the external world. These are processed in the mind and become perceptions. The theme of human sense perception is discussed both in psychology and philosophy. It is a controversial question.  ( ATTITUDE | ETHICS)
  • Intuition or gut feeling is an elusive concept, hard to define. In commonsense, it stands for an innate extra logical insight. Thus, we sometimes speak of feminine intuition. Jung thinks that the four components — thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition — have their own individual attitudes.
  • As regards the distinction between individual attitudes, Jung includes various `—isms’ like socialism or conservatism in social attitudes. Finally, his distinction between abstract and creative attitudes could refer to the difference between intellectual analysis and artistic creation. But some of his distinctions may not fall within the more commonly understood concept of attitudes.

Attitude: Structure

  • Modern psychologists regard attitude as a complex, multidimensional construct. Construct means a theoretical concept. Multidimensional means that the theoretical concept consists of more than one component or ingredient.
  • Attitude has three components. These components are cognitive, affective and conative.
    • Cognitive Component – This involves the person’s learning, knowledge, beliefs, and thoughts about the attitude-object (in our case, Honda cars). For example, if you have learned previously that Honda cars give more than 20 km/litre mileage on petrol – that can create a positive attitude towards the brand.
    • Affective Component – This involves a person’s feelings, emotions about the attitude object. For example, if owning a Honda car gives you pleasure and prestige, that will create a positive attitude about the brand.
    • Behavioural Component (Conative Component) – This involves the past behaviours or experiences regarding the attitude object. For example, if you have previously owned or driven Honda cars and felt comfortable driving the same, that will create a positive attitude towards the brand. People hate cognitive dissonance, and hence try to align the present behaviour with past behaviour as well.
  • Although there is disagreement on the particular structure of attitudes, evidence shows that they reflect more than the positive and negative evaluations of a particular object. Attitudes have other features — like importance, certainty, or strength and associated knowledge.
  • Further, inter-attitudinal structure connects different attitudes to one another and to deeper psychological structures, such as values or ideology.

Attitude: Functions  | ATTITUDE | ETHICS 

  • In psychology (and in sociology), functionalism means a particular approach which theorists adopt for understanding social or psychological phenomena. In simple terms, they try to understand the purpose which the phenomenon under study serves in the society or in the personality of the individual.
  • For example, sociologists do not study religion in the manner in which theologians study it. Theotogious may study the details of the religious doctrine, its evolution, and how it can contribute to the spiritual progress of its followers. Sociologists will study it differently. They will examine how the religion contributes to social stability. That is the function of religion in society.
  • Psychologists study attitudes similarly considering how attitudes contribute to the overall well being of the individual. Attitudes perform various functions for the psychological and mental benefit of the individual. An individual’s attitudes often satisfy his particular psychological needs.
  • Men have not only physical but also psychological needs. Thus, men need a sense of self esteem. Otherwise, they will be demoralized.
  • This is called the functional aspect of an attitude since it performs a psychological function for the individual. Psychologists explore the general and particular attitudes of individuals by considering the manner in which an individual’s attitudes affect him. They ask, ‘what purposes in a psychological sense are served by the attitudes which an individual holds?’
  • Daniel Katz classified attitudes into different groups based on their functions
    • Knowledge function: knowing one’s or other’s attitude imparts knowledge.
    • Ego-defensive function: attitudes can help people protect their self-esteem and avoid depression.
    • Ego-expressive function: used to express one’s core values or beliefs.
    • Instrumental function: helps to choose what is rewarding (and also avoid punishment).
    • Social Acceptance function: adapt to the socially approved attitudes of a larger group.



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