By attitudes, we mean the beliefs, feelings, and action tendencies of an individual or group of individuals towards objects, ideas, and people.
Quite often persons and objects or ideas become associated in the minds of individuals and as a result, attitudes become multidimensional and complex.
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.
These are the factors influencing attitude;
- Social Factors.
- Direct Instruction.
- Personal Experience.
- Educational and Religious Institutions.
- Physical Factors.
- Economic Status and Occupations.
Every society has the majority of people who prefer to lead a harmonious life. They try to avoid unnecessary friction of conflicts with people.
Naturally, they are inclined to develop positive attitudes towards most of the people and issues.
Our attitudes may facilitate and maintain our relationships with members of positively valued groups. Social roles and social norms can have a strong influence on attitudes.
Social roles relate to how people are expected to behave in a particular role or context. Social norms involve society’s rules for what behaviors are considered appropriate.
In general, the individual being conformist or’the direction of the attitude of the people it deems important. Sometimes direct instruction can influence attitude formation.
For example, somebody gives information about the usefulness of some fruit. On the basis of this information, we can develop a positive or negative attitude about that fruit.
The family is the most powerful source for the formation of attitudes. The parents, elder brother or sister provide information about various things.
Attitudes developed by an individual, whether positive or negative are the result of family influence, are very powerful and difficult to change.
An attitude may involve a prejudice, in which we prejudge an issue without giving unbiased consideration to all the evidence.
Prejudices are preconceived ideas or judgments where one develops some attitudes on other people, objects, etc.
If we are prejudiced against a person, who is, accused of a crime, we may regard him as guilty regardless of the evidence. We can also be prejudiced in favor of something (Munn).
In order to be the basis of attitudes, personal experiences have left a strong impression.
Therefore, the attitude will be more easily formed when personal experience involves emotional factors. In situations involving emotions, appreciation will be more in-depth experience and longer trace.
As a means of communication, the mass media such as television, radio, has a major influence in shaping people’s opinions and beliefs. There is new information on something that provides the foundation for the emergence of new cognitive attitudes towards it.
Educational and Religious Institutions
As a system, educational and religious institutions have a strong influence in shaping attitudes because they lay the foundation of understanding and moral concepts within the individual.
Understanding the good and the bad, the dividing line between something that can and cannot do is obtained from the center of the educational and religious institutions.
Clinical psychologists have generally recognized that physical, health and vitality are important factors in determining adjustment, and frequently it has been found that malnutrition or disease or accidents have interfered so seriously with normal development that serious behavioral disturbances have followed.
Economic Status and Occupations
Our economic and occupational positions also contribute to attitude formation.
They determine, in part, our attitudes towards unions and management and our belief that certain laws are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Our socio-economic background influences our present and future attitudes.
Attitudes reflect more than just positive or negative evaluations: they include other characteristics, such as importance, certainty, accessibility, and associated knowledge.
Attitudes are important in the study of social psychology because they influence the amount of attention and the type of judgment an individual may give to a specific subject.
Generally, we tend to assume that people behave in accordance with their attitudes.
However, social psychologists have found that attitudes and actual behavior are not always perfectly aligned.