Human Attitude: An Introduction
Every individual adheres to different sets of values. These values are manifested in the form of attitude of a person. Attitude consists of the acquired state of mind, consisting of feelings, thoughts and tendency to act towards anything we come across. Based on our mindset, we may attribute a positive or negative character with any particular thing.
It is not necessary that we carry the same attitude forever. We might react to a thing different in different times. Also an individual can also have multiple attitude for any object.
Attitude is not carried from birth. Rather, it is a result of the growth of different faculties of an individual. It is developed through experience and contact with others.
New Comb defined attitude as ‘learned enduring predisposition to respond consistently either in favorable or unfavorable manner with respect to a class of objects’. Attitude is developed through peoples’ experience as they live and work with others. These life experiences affect the way an individual behave in the society.
Jung defined attitude as ‘the readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way’. Generally it comes in pairs:
Conscious and Unconscious;
Extraversion and introversion;
Rational and Irrational attitude; and,
Individual and Social Attitude;
Nature of Attitude
Attitudes are learned, not innate. They develop with time and experience.
Attitude does not change easily. They are enduring.
Attitudes can be developed in the individual as well as groups.
Attitudes have a functional role for the individual.
Attitudes are always in relation to something. They are relational.
Attitudes have affectional and motivational property. They motivate us to do something, and have an evaluative element.
Attitude have an element of consistency, as they motivate people to act in a certain way.
Through our attitude we understand ourselves and the world around us.
Attitude is backed up with a complimentary behaviour, to make the communication effective.
Attitude develop through a heuristic (trial and error) method.
Components of Attitude
Broadly, Attitude has 3 components, known as- ‘ABC Components‘:
Affect means emotion or feeling. Affective component implies the feelings that we hold towards attitude objects. Our emotion set predispose us to behave in certain ways. Emotional component also enables us to evaluate the things we experience. Our psyche judges a thing based on our feeling towards it. Thus, it determines our liking or disliking for a particular object.
It refers to our behavioral readiness. Our behavior is in a complementary relation to our attitude. This constitutes the visible aspect of our attitude, and becomes a manifestation of our feelings and beliefs.
It implies our beliefs regarding any objects. However, our beliefs are often influenced by our feelings. Thus, the cognitive component is influenced by the affective component, and also influence it, at the same time. It marks the perceptual component of our attitude.
However, sometimes, an individual acts contrary to his attitude. This generally happens because of the environmental and external constraints, which compels us to act in ways that are contrary to our attitude.
Whereas, sometimes there exists a mismatch between our affective and cognitive faculties, and a decision in such situation, often involves a post-decision regret/dissonance. Here, the strength of the cognitive component of the attitude increases as one goes away from the object, while the strength of affective component increases as one moves closer to the object.
The components of Attitude itself, are composed of two degrees-
Valence– it refers to the degree of positivity or negativity associated with an object. It is the strength and direction of the attitude. Under it, the Cognitive component can vary from extremely beneficial to extremely harmful; affective component can vary from happiness to anger; and behavioral component vary from tendency to support, to tendency to destroy or oppose.
Multiplexity– it refers to the variation in number and kind of elements making up the component. Thus, it points to the diverse types of manifestation that the component of attitude can make. Cognitive component can be beneficial, altruistic, dependency creating etc; Affective component can be respectful, happy, sadness, hatred, disliking etc; and Behavioral component can have factor like- writing a letter, posting a comment, talking to others, putting pressure etc.
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