Attitudes are evaluative statements. They respond one's feeling either favorably or unfavorably to persons, objects or/and events. In other words, attitudes reflect how one feels about something. For example, Professor Philip Kotler says, "I like teaching." He is expressing his attitude about his work. Attitudes are not same as values, but the two are interrelated.
Components of Attitudes
The interrelation can be understand by the three components of the attitudes e.g. cognition, affect and behavior.
Cognitive component: It is the opinion or belief segment of an attitude.
Affective component: It is the emotional or feeling segment of an attitude. Cognitive component sets the stage for the more critical path of an attitude.
Behavioral component: It is an intention to behave in a certain way towards someone or something.
Hence, in sum
- Attitudes are related to the feelings and beliefs of people.
- Positive attitudes respond to persons, objects or events.
- Attitudes affect behavior either positively or negatively.
- Attitudes undergo changes.
Attitudes are evaluative statement. It may be either favorable or unfavorable. Attitudes are important for understanding individual motivation and behavior. They perform various functions.
- Attitudes serve as a basis for expressing values. They also help to defend self-image. They reconcile contradictions in the opinions of people.
- Attitudes help reduce absenteeism, turnover, grievances and accidents.
- Attitudes determine job satisfaction and performance of the employee.
- Attitudes help people to adjust to their working environment.
- Instrumental function
- Noetic function
- Expressive function
Attitudes are not inherited. These are acquired or learned by the people from the environment in which they interact. The formation of attitudes is broadly classified into two forces.
1. Direct Experience: One's direct experience with a object or person serves as a powerful source for his/her attitude formation. In other words, attitudes are formed on the basis of one's past experience in concerned object or person. Take your own case, for instance. How do you know that you like organizational behavior or dislike financial management? The answer is that you have formed these attitudes from your experience in studying the two objects. Research has shown that attitudes derived from the direct experience are more powerful, stronger, and durable and are difficult to change than are attitudes that are formed through indirect experience. This is because of their availability in our cognitive processes.
2. Social Learning: The process of deriving attitudes from family, peer groups, religious organizations and culture is called social learning. In social learning, an individual acquires attitudes from his/her environments in an indirect manner. Social learning starts from early age when children derive certain attitudes from their parents. This is often evident from when young children express their political preferences similar to those held by their parents.
The effect of attitudes on behavior is usually a complex phenomenon. It is widely accepted how that a simple, direct link between attitudes and behavior does not exist. Ajen and Fishbein have developed a model of the attitude-behavior relationship. They suggest that behavior is more predictable and understandable, if we focus on a person's specific intentions to behave in a certain way rather than solely on their attitudes towards that intentions depend on both attitudes and norms regarding the behavior.
'Norms' are rules of behavior or proper ways of acting, which have been accepted as appropriate by members of a group or society. They represent 'social pressure' to perform or not to perform the behavior in question.