What is Attitude Types Characteristics and elements


Attitude (from the Latin actitūdo ), can be defined as the manifestation of a state of mind or as a tendency to act in a certain way.

Definitions by other authors :

  • CM Judd. “Attitudes are enduring evaluations of various aspects of the social world, evaluations that are stored in memory .”
  • R. Jeffress. “Attitude is our emotional and mental response to life’s circumstances.”

The concept of attitude is widely used in the field of psychology , in which attitudes cannot be considered as particular issues , but must be understood within a social and temporal context.

Attitudes are acquired and learned throughout life and acquire direction for a certain purpose. This sets it apart from biological traits such as sleep or hunger.

Attitude is made up of three essential components:

  • Behavioral element. Firstly, this element refers to how emotions or thoughts are expressed.
  • Emotional element. Second, this element refers to the feelings that each person has.
  • Cognitive element. Finally, this element refers to what the individual thinks.

Types of attitudes

The attitudes that individuals acquire are influenced by various causes, such as relationships, beliefs and experiences lived throughout each person ‘s existence . These variants lead individuals to act differently in very similar situations.

That’s why it’s common to hear terms like positive attitude or negative attitude , which can determine the success or failure of what you’re trying to do. On the other hand, experts have made certain classifications determining the types of attitudes in:

  • Selfish attitude People who act with this type of attitude are characterized by being interested in satisfying their own needs, without being interested in the needs of others. In this case, any means are used, even other people can be a means to achieve what you want.
  • Manipulative attitude.  Individuals who have these attitudes tend to have characteristics in common with the previous case, as opposed to the fact that they actually use others as instruments to satisfy their own needs, that is, they effectively use other people as tools.
  • Selfless attitude People who adopt this type of attitude are completely opposite to the two cases mentioned above, since they are not interested in their own benefit, but that of others. Other people are not used as means or tools, but are understood as ends in themselves. People with an altruistic attitude tend to be understanding and caring.
  • Emotional attitude.  People who acquire attitudes of this type are often interested in other people’s feelings and emotional state. As in the previous case, they do not seek to exclusively satisfy their needs, but are attentive to others. These people are often affectionate and sensitive to others.

Why do we adopt different attitudes?

The attitude that individuals exhibit in relation to their environment and the social environment in which they are inserted, on more than one occasion, can reflect different functions depending on the result to be achieved.

In this way, a subject who adopts a cautious attitude aims to carry out his tasks safely and trying to reduce the margin of error to the minimum possible. The different attitudes that a subject exhibits will determine the sense of predisposition with which he will want to act.

Many specialists claim that attitude assumes a considerably high degree of importance within a group or even a society . However, the role played by an individual’s attitude can be either positive or negative .

As long as there is a positive attitude in the majority of the members of a group, it can be said that there are trends of evolution and effective adaptation, since the predisposition of each individual is positive. When a group finds members who emanate negative attitudes, the group’s course will consolidate as involutive and the chances of failure will be greater.

Obtaining attitudes is by no means innate, but, on the contrary, the human being is the one who acquires and adopts them based on lived experiences.

In this sense, it is correct to say that an attitude is acquired through active experience with something specific , such as an object, an event, a person and so on. Furthermore, the result caused in response to a stimulus, generated by external agents, is a means by which attitudes are obtained.

Characteristics of attitudes

Attitudes are subject to several completely recognizable characteristics:

  • Attitudes are predisposed to spontaneous changes and innate flexibility.
  • Attitudes are the main engine of influence in relation to responses to stimuli and adopted behaviors .
  • Attitudes can respond to various situations, therefore, they are considered transferable.
  • Attitudes are acquired through experience and gaining knowledge in each event that constitutes an individual’s life. Thus, attitudes influence the different behaviors that the subject adopts.

Attitude elements

Social psychologist Rodríguez Aroldo observes that attitude is made up of different essential elements:

  • Cognitive element.  The very existence of an attitude is complemented by the existence of a cognitive scheme that the subject himself recreates. This scheme is constituted by the perception that can be captured about the object in question, together with the beliefs and data previously held about it. This element can also be understood as an attitudinal model of value expectation. The studies carried out by Fishbein and Ajzen state that any object that does not contain any type of data or information will never be able to generate an attitude in the individual.
  • Behavioral element.  According to Rodríguez Aroldo, the behavioral element is one that is always active. Furthermore, he defines it as the attitudinal current that occurs when reacting to an object in a specific way.
  • Affective element.  Unlike the behavioral element, the affective element consists of the exposed feelings, whether positive or negative, in the face of a social object. It also represents the point of comparison between beliefs and opinions, always characterized by its cognitive side.

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