Attitudes, Values and Beliefs


Attitudes

Attitude refers to the individual judgments concerning objects, people or events. They refer to favorable or unfavorable statements which reflects how an individual feels about a particular object, people or events. It can be stated as the collection of beliefs, feelings and behavioral intentions towards an object. Attitudes can be related to emotion but they differ as attitudes are judgmental whereas emotions are experienced. Thus, attitude can be described as a person’s learnt predisposition to respond towards objects, people or events which are specific and consistent.

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.

The characteristics of attitude consists of:
  • Attitudes have consistency as they tend to persist unless various efforts are carried to change them.
  • Attitude can be favorable or unfavorable judgments.
  • Attitudes are directed towards object people or event.
  • Attitudes are specific.
Thus, an attitude refers to a persistent tendency to feel and behave in a particular way towards people objects or events. They make up personality of an individual. The formation of attitude consists of: 

i) Situational Determinations
The attitude of an individual may differ at different situations as the prevailing situation provides information to individual to form their feelings or emotions. 

ii) Personality Traits:
Traits describe the nature of an individual personality. The personality trait of an individual influences the work attitude as individual with positive affectivity tends to have an overall sense of well-being and experiences positive attitude. The person with negative affectivity tends to feel nervous, tense and worried experiencing negative attitude. 

iii) Components of Attitudes:
The interrelation can be understand by the three components of the attitudes e.g. cognition, affect and behavior.
  1. Cognitive component: It refers to the beliefs and information about object, people or event which affect the attitude to be formed. It is the opinion or belief segment of an attitude.
  2. Affective component: It is the emotional or feeling segment of an attitude; feeling can be positive, negative or neutral. 
  3. Behavioral component: It refers to the intentional purpose to behave in certain way which can be directly observed. 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.

Functions of Attitudes
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.
Besides mentioned above, attitude perform;
  • Instrumental function
  • Noetic function 
  • Expressive function

Formation of Attitudes
Attitudes are not inherited. These are acquired or learnt 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.

Values

Values indicate enduring convictions. They represent the basic conviction of an individual as to what is right, good or desirable and carry moral background. The value contains an element of judgement and tends to be long lasting. The values are acquired from parents, teachers, friends, reference group etc. They influence the behavior of individuals in an organization. The values can be terminal values and instrumental values. The terminal value represents desirable instead of existence. It represent the goals that are individual would like to achieve during their life time whereas the instrumental value refer to preferable mode of behavior which are the means to achieve terminal values. The values can be classified from seven level approach which includes reactive, tribalistic, ego-centrism, conformity, manipulative, socio-centric and existential. The importance of values are:
  • It influences perception of individuals.
  • They are the foundation for understanding attitude.
  • It influences motivation of an individual to achieve specific outcomes such as promotion, prestige etc.
  • The value influences the activities that an individual finds appealing.
  • It serves as guidelines for individual action in organization setting.

Beliefs

Beliefs refers to descriptive thoughts that an individual holds about something which influences the individual behavior. It is normally based on knowledge opinion and faith and are acquired from parents, teacher, friends etc. Beliefs tends to be stable as they served as foundation upon which individual order and structure are built. It provides continuity and meaning to perception. The values can be developed from cultural environment and functional factors. The divergence of belief from real situation can limit their effectiveness. The divergence occurs from superstitions, delusions, prejudices etc. The importance of beliefs in OB are:
  • It provides continuity to the personality of an individual.
  • It assigns meaning to perception of an individual.
  • Beliefs are incorporated with attitudes.
  • It helps to motivate an individual.

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