Attitude Meaning, Nature and Components20/04/2020
Attitude is the mental state of individuals, which tends to act or respond or is ready to respond for or against objects, situations, etc. with which their vested feelings or effect, interest, liking, desire and so on are directly or indirectly linked or associated. During the course of development the person acquires tendencies to respond to objects. These learned cognitive mechanisms are called attitudes.
Attitude is an enduring evaluation positive or negative of people, objects, and ideas. Thus, attitudes are evaluative statements or judgments concerning objects, people, or events. Attitude has three components cognition, affection, and behaviour of people. A particular attitude of a person can be based on one component or the other.
Cognitive-based attitude is primarily based on beliefs and properties of an attitudinal object. Cognitive component of an attitude is the opinion or belief segment of an attitude. Cognitive dissonance theory helps us to trace any incompatibility between two or more attitudes or between behaviour and attitudes.
Affection-based attitude stems from people’s feelings (e.g., attitudes towards political candidates). Affective component is the emotion or feeling segment of an attitude. Behaviour-based attitude is based on the self-perception of one’s own behaviour when the initial attitude is weak or ambiguous.
Behavioural component of an attitude is an intention to behave in a certain way towards someone or something. The affection-behaviour (A- B) relationship acts as moderating variables (i.e., importance, specificity, accessibility, social pressures, and direct experience). The self-perception theory uses attitudes after the event, to make sense out of an action taken. For organizational behaviour, the people’s attitude is especially significant, as job satisfaction, job involvement, and organizational commitment largely stem from an individual employee’s attitude.
Job satisfaction refers to the general attitude of employees towards their job. Job involvement helps in psychological identification of people with their job, while organizational commitment is the degree to which an employee identifies with a particular organization and its goals, and wishes to maintain membership in the organization. In an organization, people seek consistency among their attitudes and seek to reconcile with divergent attitudes in order to appear rational and consistent.
An attitudinal change in a person takes place with change in the behaviour. The cognitive dissonance theory facilitates change of attitude through behavioural reinforcement. Persuasive communication and focus on a particular issue facilitate such change of attitude.
Nature of Attitude
Following are the salient features which contribute to the meaning of attitudes:
- Attitudes refer to feelings and beliefs of individuals or groups of individuals. For example “He has a poor attitude”, “I like her attitude.”
- The feeling’s and beliefs are directed towards other people, objects or ideas. When a person says, “I like my Job”. It shows that he has a positive attitude towards his job.
- Attitudes often result in and affect the behaviour or action of the people. Attitudes can lead to intended behaviour if there are no external interventions.
- Attitudes constitute a psychological phenomenon which cannot be directly observed. However, an attitude can be observed indirectly by observing its consequences. For example, if a person is very regular in his job, we may infer that he likes his job very much.
- Attitudes are gradually acquired over a period of time. The process of learning attitude starts right from childhood and continues throughout the life of a person. In the beginning the family members may have a greater impact on the attitude of a child.
- Attitudes are evaluative statements, either favourable or unfavourable. When a person says he likes or dislikes something or somebody, an attitude is being expressed.
- All people, irrespective of their status and intelligence hold attitudes.
- An attitude may be unconsciously held. Most of our attitudes may be about those which we are not clearly aware. Prejudice furnishes a good example.
Components of Attitudes
Attitudes comprise of three basic components: emotional, informational and behavioural.
These three components are described below:
- Informational or Cognitive Component
The informational component consists of beliefs, values, ideas and other information a person has about the object. It makes no difference whether or not this information is empirically correct or real. For example, a person seeking a job may learn from his own sources and other employees working in the company that in a particular company the promotion chances are very favourable. In reality, it may or may not be correct. Yet the information that person is using is the key to his attitude about that job and about that company.
- Emotional or Affective Component
The informational component sets the stage for the more critical part of an attitude, its affective component. The emotional components involve the person’s feeling or affect-positive, neutral or negative-about an object. This component can be explained by this statement.” I like this job because the future prospects in this company are very good”.
- Behavioural Component
The behavioural component consists of the tendency of a person to behave in a particular manner towards an object. For example, the concerned individual in the above case may decide to take up the job because of good future prospects. Out of the three components of attitudes, only the behavioural component can be directly observed. One cannot see another person’s beliefs (the informational component) and his feelings (the emotional component). These two components can only be inferred. But still understanding these two components is essential in the study of organizational behaviour or the behavioural component of attitudes.
The components are illustrated in the following table:
ABC Model of Attitude
All the three components of attitude explained above constitute, what is OF called the ABC model. Here, in the ABC model, the alphabet A stands for Affective component, B for Behavioural and C for the cognitive component. The importance of this model is that to have a proper and thorough understanding of the concept of attitude, all the three components mentioned above must be properly assessed. It is only the behavioural component which can be directly observed, the other two components: affective and cognitive can however only be inferred.