Attitude (psychology)

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This article is about a psychological term. For other meanings, see Attitude.

Attitude is a concept in psychology. Attitudes are positive, negative or neutral views of an "attitude object": i.e. a person, behaviour or event. People can also be "ambivalent" towards a target, meaning that they simultaneously possess a positive and a negative bias towards the attitude in question.

Attitudes come from judgements. Attitudes develop on the ABC model (affect, behavioral change and cognition). The affective response is a physiological response that expresses an individual's preference for an entity. The behavioral intention is a verbal indication of the intention of an individual. The cognitive response is a cognitive evaluation of the entity to form an attitude. Most attitudes in individuals are a result of observational learning from their environment.

The link between attitude and behavior exists but depends on human behavior, some of which is irrational. For example, a person who is for blood transfusion may not donate blood. This makes sense if the person does not like the sight of blood, which explains this irrationality


[edit] Implicit and explicit attitudes

There is also considerable research on "implicit" attitudes, which are unconscious but have effects (identified through sophisticated experiments using people's response times to stimuli). Implicit and "explicit" attitudes (i.e. ones people report when they ask themselves how much they like an object) seem to affect people's behaviour, 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 poorly understood.

[edit] Attitude formation

Unlike personality, attitudes are expected to change as a function of experience. Tesser (1993) has argued that heredity variables may affect attitudes - but believes that 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. These include:

[edit] 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:

  1. Target Characteristics: These are characteristics that refer to the person who receives and processes a message. One such is intelligence - it seems that more intelligent people are less easily persuaded by one-sided messages. Another variable that has been studied in this category is self esteem. Although it is sometimes thought that those higher in self-esteem are less easily persuaded, there is some evidence that the relationship between self-esteem and persuasibility is actually curvilinear, with people of moderate self-esteem being more easily persuaded than both those of high and low self-esteem levels (Rhodes & Woods, 1992). The mind frame and mood of the target also plays a role in this process.
  2. Source Characteristics: The major source characteristics are expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness. The credibility of a perceived message has been found to be a key variable here (Hovland & Weiss, 1951); if one reads a report on health and believes it comes from a professional medical journal, one may be more easily persuaded than if one believes it is from a popular newspaper. Some psychologists have debated whether this is a long-lasting effect and Hovland and Weiss (1951) found the effect of telling people that a message came from a credible source disappeared after several weeks (the so-called "sleeper effect"). Whether there is a sleeper effect is controversial. Received wisdom is that if people are informed of the source of a message before hearing it, there is less likelihood of a sleeper effect than if they are told a message and then told its source.
  3. Message Characteristics: The nature of the message plays a role in persuasion. Sometimes presenting both sides of a story is useful to help change attitudes.
  4. Cognitive Routes: A message can appeal to an individual's cognitive evaluation to help change an attitude. In the central route to persuasion the individual is presented with the data and motivated to evaluate the data and arrive at an attitude changing conclusion. In the peripheral route to attitude change, the individual is encouraged to not look at the content but at the source. This is commonly seen in modern advertisements that feature celebrities. In some cases, doctors and experts are used. In other cases film stars are used for their attractiveness.

[edit] 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, iWAM and PAPI were developed to measure work Attitude and motivation, e.g. for pre-employment testing

[edit] Jung's definition of attitude

Attitude is one of Jung's 57 definitions in Chapter XI of Psychological Types. Jung's definition of attitude is a "readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way" (Jung, [1921] 1971:par. 687). Attitudes very often come in pairs, one conscious and the other unconscious. Within this broad definition Jung defines several attitudes.

The main (but not only) attitude dualities that Jung defines are the following.

  • Consciousness and the unconscious. The "presence of two attitudes is extremely frequent, one conscious and the other unconscious. This means that consciousness has a constellation of contents different from that of the unconscious, a duality particularly evident in neurosis" (Jung, [1921] 1971: par. 687).
  • Extraversion and introversion. This pair is so elementary to Jung's theory of types that he labeled them the "attitude-types".
  • Rational and irrational attitudes. "I conceive reason as an attitude" (Jung, [1921] 1971: par. 785).
  • The rational attitude subdivides into the thinking and feeling psychological functions, each with its attitude.
  • The irrational attitude subdivides into the sensing and intuition psychological functions, each with its attitude. "There is thus a typical thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuitive attitude" (Jung, [1921] 1971: par. 691).
  • Individual and social attitudes. Many of the latter are isms.

In addition, Jung discusses the abstract attitude. “When I take an abstract attitude...” (Jung, [1921] 1971: par. 679). Abstraction is contrasted with concretism. “CONCRETISM. By this I mean a peculiarity of thinking and feeling which is the antithesis of abstraction” (Jung, [1921] 1971: par. 696).

[edit] MBTI definition of attitude

The MBTI write-ups limit the use of "attitude" to the extraversion-introversion (EI) and judging-perceiving (JP) indexes.

The JP index is sometimes referred to as an orientation to the outer world and sometimes JP is classified as an "attitude." In Jungian terminology the term attitude is restricted to EI. In MBTI terminology attitude can include EI and also JP. (Myers, 1985:293 note 7).

The above MBTI Manual statement, "In Jungian terminology the term attitude is restricted to EI," is directly contradicted by Jung's statement above that there is "a typical thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuitive attitude" and by his other uses of the term "attitude". Regardless of whether the MBTI simplification (or oversimplification) of Jung can be attributed to Myers, Gifts Differing refers only to the "EI preference", consistently avoiding the label "attitude". Regarding the JP index, in Gifts Differing Myers does use the terms "the perceptive attitude and the judging attitude" (Myers, 1980:8). The JP index corresponds to the irrational and rational attitudes Jung describes, except that the MBTI focuses on the preferred orientation in the outer world in order to identify the function hierarchy. To be consistent with Jung, it can be noted that a rational extraverted preference is accompanied by an irrational introverted preference. A "J" on the outside is a "P" on the inside and vice versa.

[edit] References

  • [1] From USA Today "Power of a super attitude"
  • "The A-Word" by Paul Niquette
  • Jung, C.G. (1966). Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, Collected Works, Volume 7, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01782-4.
  • Jung, C.G. [1921] (1971). Psychological Types, Collected Works, Volume 6, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01813-8.
  • Myers, I. B. & Myers, P. B. (1980), Gifts Differing", Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. ISBN 0-89106-011-1
  • Myers, I. B. & McCaulley, M. H. (1985), Manual: a guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs type indicator", Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. ISBN 0-89106-027-8

[edit] See also

es:Actitud it:Atteggiamento pl:Postawa ru:Установка (психология) fi:Myönteinen ajattelu

Attitude (psychology)

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