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What is attitude?

We explain what the attitude is, its classification and why we adopt different attitudes. Its main characteristics and elements.

  1. What is attitude?

The attitude (from Latin actitūdo ), can be defined as the manifestation of a mood or as a tendency to act in a certain way.

  • CM Judd. “Attitudes are lasting assessments of various aspects of the social world, assessments that are stored in memory.”
  • R. Jeffress «Attitude is our emotional and mental response to the circumstances of life».

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

Attitudes are acquired and learned throughout life and acquire a direction towards a certain end. This differentiates it from biological characters, such as sleep or hunger.

The attitude is made up of three essential components:

  • Behavioral element. First, this element refers to the way in which 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.
  1. Types of attitudes

Emotional attitude
Someone with an emotional attitude tends to be interested in the feelings of others.

The attitudes that individuals acquire are influenced by various causes, such as relationships, beliefs and experiences that have been lived around the existence of each person . These variants encourage individuals to act in different ways in very similar situations.

That is why it is common to hear terms such as positive attitude or negative attitude , which can determine the success or failure of what is attempted. On the other hand specialists have made certain classifications determining the types of attitudes in:

  • Selfish attitude.  People who act with these types of attitudes are characterized by being interested in meeting 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 is desired.
  • Manipulative attitude  Individuals who possess these attitudes usually have characteristics in common to the previous case, unlike that they really use others as the instrument to meet their own needs, that is, they effectively use other people as tools.
  • Altruistic attitude.  People who adopt this type of attitude are completely opposed to the two cases mentioned above since they are not interested in their own benefit, if not in that of others. Other people are not used as a means or tool, but they are understood as ends in themselves. People with an altruistic attitude are usually understanding and attentive.
  • Emotional attitude  People who acquire attitudes of this kind tend to be interested in the feelings and emotional state of other people. As in the previous case, they do not seek to satisfy their needs exclusively, but are considered with others. Many times these people are emotional and sensitive to others.
  1. Why do we adopt different attitudes?

Positive and negative attitude
The attitude of an individual can be differentiated in negative and positive.

The attitude that individuals exhibit before their environment and the social environment in which they are integrated, on more than one occasion, may reflect different functions depending on the result they want to achieve.

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

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

While there is a positive attitude in the majority of the members of a group, it can be said that it has effective evolution and adaptation tendencies, since the predisposition of each individual is positive. When a group encounters members that emanate negative attitudes, the group’s course will be consolidated as involutive and the chances of failure will be higher.

Obtaining attitudes in no way is innate, but instead the human being is the one who acquires and adopts them based on the experiences lived.

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

  1. Characteristics of attitudes

Attitude
Attitudes are an engine of influence in relation to responses to stimuli.

Attitudes are subject to various fully recognizable characteristics:

  • Attitudes are predisposed to spontaneous change and innate flexibility.
  • Attitudes are the main driver of influence in relation to responses to stimuli and behaviors adopted.
  • Attitudes can respond to multiple situations, therefore they are said to be transferable.
  • Attitudes are acquired through experience and obtaining knowledge in each event that makes up the life of an individual. In this way, attitudes influence the different behaviors that the subject adopts.

Expand: Characteristics of attitudes .

  1. Attitude elements

The social psychologist, Rodríguez Aroldo, points out that the attitude is composed of different essential elements:

  • Cognitive element.  The very existence of an attitude is complemented together with the existence of a cognitive scheme that the subject himself recreates. This scheme is shaped by the perception that can be captured on the object in question, along with the beliefs and data that are previously taken of it. This element can also be understood as an attitudinal model of expectation by value. The studies carried out by Fishbein and Ajzen affirm based on this that any object of which no type of data or information is possessed can never generate an attitude in the individual.
  • Behavioral element.  According to Rodríguez Aroldo, the behavioral element is one that is active at all times. In addition, it defines it as the attitudinal current that occurs when reacting to an object in a specific way.
  • Affective element.  Unlike the behavioral one, the affective element is made up of the exposed feelings, whether positive or negative, in front of a social object. It also represents the point of comparison between beliefs and opinions, always characterized by their cognitive side.

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