Attitude: Definition, Nature and Characteristics (Explained)

what is attitudeAn attitude is a positive; negative or mixed evaluation of an object that is expressed at some level of intensity. It is an expression of a favorable or unfavorable evaluation of a person, place, thing or event.

These are fundamental determinants of our perceptions of, and actions toward all aspects of our social environment. Attitudes involve a complex organization of evaluative beliefs, feelings, and tendencies toward certain actions.

How much we like or dislike something determines our behavior towards that thing.

We tend to approach, seek out or be associated with things we like; we avoid, shun or reject things we do not like.

Some examples of attitudes are- he has a positive attitude about the changes, she is friendly and has a good attitude, he was showing some attitude during practice today, so the coach benched him, I like my friends that means I am expressing my attitudes towards my friends, etc.

Definition of Attitude

According to Gordon Allport, “An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related.”

According to Si P. Robbins – “Attitude is manner, disposition, feeling and position with regard to a person or thing, tendency or orientation especially in the mind.”

Frank Freeman said, “An attitude is a dispositional readiness to respond to certain institutions, persons or objects in a consistent manner which has been learned and has become one’s typical mode of response.”

Thurstone said, “An attitude denotes the sum total of man’s inclinations and feelings, prejudice or bias, pre-conceived notions, ideas, fears, threats and other any specific topic.”

Anastasi defined attitude as, “A tendency to react favorably or unfavorably towards a designated class of stimuli, such as a national or racial group, a custom or an institution.”

According to N.L. Munn, “Attitudes are learned predispositions towards aspects of our environment. They may be positively or negatively directed towards certain people, service or institution.”

Characteristics of Attitude

Characteristics of Attitude

Attitude can be described as a tendency to react positively or negatively to a person or circumstances.

Thus the two main elements of attitude are this tendency or predisposition and the direction of this predisposition.

There are the characteristics of attitude;

  1. Attitudes are the complex combination of things we tend to call personality, beliefs, values, behaviors, and motivations.
  2. It can fall anywhere along a continuum from very favorable to very unfavorable.
  3. All people, irrespective of their status or intelligence, hold attitudes.
  4. An attitude exists in every person’s mind. It helps to define our identity, guide our actions, and influence how we judge people.
  5. Although the feeling and belief components of attitude are internal to a person, we can view a person’s attitude from his or her resulting behavior.

Components of Attitude

Components of Attitudes

Attitudes are simply expressions of much we like or dislike various things. Attitudes represent our evaluations, preferences or rejections based on the information we receive.

3 components of attitude are;

  1. Cognitive Component.
  2. Affective Component.
  3. Behavioral Component.

Factors Influencing Attitudes

Factors Influencing Attitude

By attitudes, we mean the beliefs, feelings, and action tendencies of an individual or group of individuals towards objects, ideas, and people.

Attitudes involve some knowledge of a Situation.

However, the essential aspect, of the attitude is found in the fact that some characteristic feeling or emotion is experienced and, as we would accordingly expect, some definite tendency to action is associated.

Subjectively, then, the important factor is the feeling or emotion.

There are a number of different factors that can influence how and why attitudes form. These are-

  • Social Factors.
  • Direct Instruction.
  • Family.
  • Prejudices.
  • Personal Experience.
  • Media.
  • Educational and Religious Institutions.
  • Physical Factors.
  • Economic Status and Occupations.

Learn more about factors influencing attitudes.

Types of Attitudes

3 Types of Attitude

Attitude is something that lies between emotions and thought processing. It may be positive or negative.

In organizational behavior; three types of attitudes are;

  1. Job Satisfaction,
  2. Job Involvement, and
  3. Organizational Commitment.

Functions of Attitudes

Functions of Attitudes

The most important function of an attitude can only be ascertained by considering it in relation to the person who holds it and the environment in which they operate.

Daniel Katz outlines four functions of attitude areas:

  1. Adjustment Function.
  2. Ego-Defensive Function.
  3. Value-Expressive Function.
  4. Knowledge Function.

Barriers to Change Attitudes

Barriers to Change Attitudes

The process of changing the attitude is not always easy.

Actually, the barriers are the limits which prevent the organization from achieving its predetermined goals.

So every organization should be aware of these and should take corrective actions.

Barriers to Change Attitudes are;

  • Prior Commitment.
  • Insufficient Information.
  • Balance and Consistency.
  • Lack of Resources.
  • Improper Reward System.
  • Resistance to Change.

Ways of Changing Attitudes

Changing Attitudes

Attitude can be changed if we differentiate negative attitude from a positive attitude.

A positive attitude can bring positive change in life, It is difficult to change attitudes but with some effort, it can be done.

Some of the ways of changing attitude are as follows;

  • New information will help to change attitudes.
  • Negative attitudes are mainly formed owing to insufficient information.
  • Attitudes may change through direct experience.
  • Another way in which attitudes can be changed is by resolving discrepancies between attitudes and behavior.

Workplace and Attitudes

Workplace and Attitudes

Taking this a step further, we can assemble some ideas of how these three components of attitudes can impact the workplace.

The challenge in the workplace is that now these components are tied to work functions, policy, procedures and organizational structure, as well as the people and individuals present in the organization.

For example, we could have thoughts or beliefs (cognitive) about managers in general, and those thoughts or beliefs could manifest themselves is not trusting a manager (effective), and thus we would never want to develop a close relationship with a manager (behavioral).

Attitude Surveys

Attitude Surveys

For an understanding of how the employee perceives the organization and workgroups, the most popular method is through the use of attitude surveys.

Often an essential component of organizational training and development, Employee Attitude surveys provide a picture of the organization’s needs.

Employee attitude surveys measure the employee’s opinions on most of the aspects of a workplace including:

  • Overall satisfaction.
  • Management/employee relations.
  • Corporate culture.
  • Career development.
  • Compensation.
  • Benefits.
  • Recognition and rewards.
  • Working conditions.
  • Training.
  • Staffing levels.
  • Safety concerns.
  • Policies and procedures.

Attitudes and Beliefs

Attitudes and Beliefs

Beliefs have a big impact on attitude.

An attitude is a relatively enduring organization of beliefs, feelings, and behavioral tendencies towards socially significant objects, groups, events or symbols. It is a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner with respect to a given object.

Attitude is an expression of evaluation toward a person, place, thing or event. It will always have a positive and negative element and have a tendency to behave in a certain way.

Attitudes vs. Behavior

Attitude Behavior

Attitudes influences behavior.

Attitude refers to feelings, beliefs and behavior predispositions directed towards people, groups, ideas or objects. It influences the behavior of the individuals. It decides how to act or behave in a particular situation.

Attitude is a kind of habit. It is a usual way of doing things.

Everything in an organization will get better if the attitude of everyone gets better. Successes and failures in life depend upon the attitude of the individuals.

If attitudes are positive, then human relations will be positive. It is internal and very difficult to change.

Behavior is the way a person responds to his attitude. This response is either positive or negative, depending on how that views his position.


Finally, we can say that attitudes are evaluative statement favorable or unfavorable related to the person, object or events.

Although there are some differences regarding attitudes, based on the opinions of the above, it can be concluded that the attitude is a state in which man moves to act or do anything in response to a situation or condition of the objects in the surrounding environment.

Actually, it is a statement toward something, or someone exhibited in one’s beliefs, feelings, or intended behavior. It is a social orientation an underlying inclination to respond to something either favorably or unfavorably.

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