Meaning, Definition, Nature, Characteristics, Types and Components and  Functions of Attitude

Table Of Content:-

Attitude Meaning 

Attitude is the state of mind of a person towards something. It may be defined as a negative or positive evaluation of an object that affects a human’s behaviour towards an object, people, or event. Attitudes, especially individual attitudes, have a key bearing on how individual functions within the organisation, particularly as these attitudes may be reflected in positive or negative behaviour.

Attitude is a mental state of readiness. An attitude is a readiness to respond coherently to certain institutions, persons, or objects. Attitude depends on feelings, disposition, manners, and position, especially on a person’s point of view, tendency, or orientation. What has been learned has become a specific mode of response.

Related Article:- Types of Motivation

Attitudes are an individual’s predispositions towards given aspects of the world. For example, as a manager, if one wants to manage efficiently then one is expected to know in advance the attitude of the subordinates and workers because attitude does influence the behaviour of people and also their performance. Attitude puts a person ready to respond favourably or unfavourably to actions and situations in the environment.

Attitude Definition

According to Smith and Bem – “Attitudes are likes and dislikes”.

According to Budworth – “Attitudes are somewhat permanent tendencies of the object of interest, consisting in the anticipation of some kind of forethought and readiness for due process.”

According to Reimers and Gage – “Attitude is that emotional tendency organized by experiences, which responded positively or negatively to a psychological substance or object.”

According to Cratch and Cratchfield – “Attitude can be defined as the permanent organization of a person’s motivational, emotional, perceptual and cognitive responses to some part of the world.”

According to Kay Trill – “Attitude is a state of permanent readiness, more or less, of a mental organization that enables a person to respond in a targeted way to an object or to a situation to which he relates.”

  • It means that attitude is a mental inclination. Due to the neurological readiness found in this mental inclination, mental readiness is found in the attitude, which gives a special form to our motivations, emotions, and perception.

Thus, ‘attitude’ is the expression of favourable or unfavourable thoughts and feelings towards a psychological substance- person, thing, institution, religion, idea, etc. The object or person towards which there is a mental suggestion, as are the feelings, the same behaviour shows favourable or unfavourable. This display of favourable or unfavourable behaviour expresses a liking or dislike for that stimulus.

According to Bitt: “Attitude is a state of vascular and mental readiness, which has a directional or dynamic effect on the response to all objects and situations related to the individual.”

Attitude is a mental inclination that is related to the mental attitude of behaviour in social situations. This instinct refers to the decision of a human being through which he displays a particular type of behaviour towards some object or situation or expresses thoughts;

For example, our belief in any religion or any political party, etc. Attitude is also influenced by friends, neighbourhood, society, school, newspapers, magazines, media, etc., and keeps changing according to the time and situation.

Sometimes attitudes may be affected by the organisation itself, and one of the challenges facing the modern manager may be how to affect an attitude change in the organisation within the broad reference of cultural or strategic change.

Related Article:- Functions of Attitude

Types of Attitude

There are three types of attitudes positive attitude, negative attitude and neutral attitude. They are explained as follows:-

1. Positive Attitude: 

A positive attitude means how positive a person thinks. With positive thinking, a person can bring positive change in his life. A positive attitude organizes a person’s behaviour as it keeps his work moving & progressing, which means maintaining a positive viewpoint gives many benefits in any kind of situation. The best way to have a positive mindset is to avoid negativity and believe in yourself with a list of attitudes such as confidence,  sincerity, happiness, and determination to follow.

Positive attitude traits are as follows:

  • Sense of responsibility
  • Optimism
  • Cheerfulness/Happiness
  • Tolerance
  • Determination
  • Sincerity
  • Flexibility
  • Humility
  • Reliability
  • Confidence
  • Diligence

2. Negative Attitude: 

A negative attitude is a temperament, feeling, or manner that is not cooperative, constructive, or optimistic. It can affect anyone, and anywhere. A negative attitude badly affects a person’s mindset, which forms anger, doubt, and frustration human behaviour like this will affect a person’s career. Anger is a type of negative attitude which is a basic cause of self-destruction that leads to devastation because anger doesn’t allow our brain to think thoroughly for better solutions; rather, it makes the situation complex. a positive attitude is very important for achieving success in life. A negative attitude is mostly harmful, due to it, there is a hindrance in the formation of many relationships and there is a possibility that the maintained relationships can get spoiled. On the other hand, we may lose many good opportunities in our life due to our negative thinking. Socialism plays a major role in human life. Confidence is essential in social life. So our positive attitude connects us with society and due to a negative attitude, we can get isolated from society.

Negative attitude traits are as follows:

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Hatred
  • Doubt
  • Inferiority
  • Frustration
  • Pessimism
  • Resentment

3. Neutral Attitude: 

In this type of attitude, everything is neutral as there is no hope and doubt, people usually become lazy and unemotional they don’t care much for anything; they simply go with the flow. People with a neutral attitude don’t give sufficient importance to events or situations. They generally ignore the problems and leave them for someone else to solve.

Neutral attitude traits include:

  • Complacence
  • Detachment
  • Indifference
  • Unemotional
  • A feeling of being disconnected

Related Article:- Components of Attitude

Nature of Attitude

Nature of attitude includes the following:

1) Attitudes have an Object: Attitudes must have an object. That is, they must have a focal point whether it is a theoretical concept, such as “ethical behaviour,” or a real item, such as a car. The object can be a physical thing, such as an article, or it can be an action, such as buying a mobile phone. In addition, the object can be either an object, such as a person, or a collection of items such as a social group.

2) Attitude own Direction, Degree, and Intensity: An attitude expresses how a person feels toward something. It expresses:

  • i) Direction: An individual is either favourable or unfavourable towards an object;
  • ii) Degree: How much a person likes or dislikes the object; and
  • iii) Intensity: The level of sureness or confidence of expression about something, or how fully a person feels about his opinion. Although degree and intensity may seem the same and they both are related to each other they are not synonymous.

3) Attitudes have Structure: Attitudes demonstrate an organisation, which means they possess inter-attitudinal centrality and have internal consistency. They also tend to be stable, to have varying degrees of silence, and to be generalized. The structure of human attitudes may be viewed as a complicated ‘Tinker Toy’, set fabricated in a type of circular pattern. 

At the centre of this arrangement are somebody’s significant values and self-concept. Attitudes connected to the centre of this system are said to have a high level of centrality. Other attitudes located further out in the structure hold less centrality.

4) Attitudes are Learned: Attitudes are gradually learned over some time. The learning process of attitudes starts in childhood and continues all over the life of a person. However, in the starting, the family members have a greater impact on the attitude of a child. 

For example, if the family members have a positive attitude toward business and a negative attitude towards service, there is a greater likelihood that the child will inculcate similar attitudes towards these objects.

Characteristics of Attitude

The characteristics of Attitude are as follows:

1. Attitude has an object: An attitude has an object, which is liked or disliked, favoured or disfavored; or evaluated as negative or positive. The object can be an idea, a thing,  a person, or a situation.

2. Attitudes are learned: Attitude is learned by a person it is not an inborn phenomenon. Attitudes are learnt through experiences and social interactions. We interact with others, experience many things and acquire information about things, which leads to the formation of our negative or positive attitudes towards different things.

3. Attitudes are predispositions: An attitude is a predisposition – a prior determined or learnt view of a thing or tendency to act in a specific way towards a thing. A person has a view which is already formed in his mind.

4. Attitudes are relatively stable phenomena: An attitude is not a momentary feeling but a long-held thought of something. Though attitudes can be changed from time to time It is a relatively stable phenomenon that persists for some time.

5. Attitude has an emotional component: It has an emotional aspect of liking or disliking an object.

6. Attitudes influence human behaviour: A positive attitude towards a thing will influence human behaviour towards the thing favourably. Similarly, a negative attitude influences human behaviour towards a thing unfavourably. For example, a vegetarian person would avoid eating chicken due to his negative attitude towards chicken consumption.

Components of Attitude

An attitude comprises of following components:

1) Cognitive Component 

The cognitive component of an attitude is conceptualised as a person’s factual knowledge of the situation, object, or person, including oneself. In other words, the cognitive component leads to how much somebody knows about a topic. 

For example, The cognitive component of computer concern would be based on how much a person knows about computers and his level of understanding of computer work. 

2) Affective Component 

The affective component of attitude consists of a person’s evaluation, liking, or emotional response to some object, situation, or person. Affective responses reflect one’s attitude with sensations of happiness, sadness, or other levels of physical arousal.

For example, For the attitude construct of laptop anxiety, a topic of current interest, the affective component would be a personal liking for the laptop and his feeling of excitement, or fear, when he used one.

3) Behavioural Component 

The behavioural component of an attitude involves the person’s clear behaviour directed towards an object, situation, or person.

For example, The behavioural component of computer concern would be related to how often a person had used a computer, and what kind of experience he had faced. 

For example, People, who routinely use machines, especially if they choose to use them freely, would be more likely to have positive attitudes toward machines and be less anxious, than would others who have less experience with machines.

The components are not isolated but are interrelated and produce a representation of the attitude construct. organising framework or mental

Functions of Attitude

According to Katz, the functions of attitude fall into the following categories:

1) Adaptive Function

Some attitudes assist to enable oneself to attain particular, desired goals or avoid unwanted situations. The holding and representing of certain attitudes may bring about direct rewards. 

Alternately, some attitudes allow a person to access circumstances where rewards are available, as when expressing a liking for particular music or ways of dressing allows some adolescents to join appropriate social groups and receive the advantages of group membership (social support, friendship, and so on). Moreover, expressing other attitudes may help some people avoid negative situations.

For example: In an election, generally, the people from the minority cast votes for those candidates who promise to keep reservations.

While the people generally cast votes for those who promise to remove the reservation system. Thus the voting behaviour of both groups is influenced by the utility and interest served.

2) Knowledge Function

Some attitudes are beneficial as they help us to understand the world more clearly. They help people ascribe causes to events and direct attention towards features of people or situations that are likely to help make sense of them. As a result, they help to make the world more understandable, anticipated and obvious, as well as increase the efficiency of knowledge processing (cognitive economy).

For example – Stereotyping. Stereotypes are mental structures that allow us to predict the features a person will have based on the group they belong to.

For example – Somebody who has an interest in hi-fi systems is likely to read magazines about them, visit exhibitions, and discuss them with friends to know what the latest products are.

Functions of attitude

3) Value-Expressive Function

Some attitudes are essential to a person because they express values that are basic to that person’s self-concept (ie, their ideas about who they are). Consequently, attitude is a part of who they are and the expression of attitude says important points about the person to others. 

For example- A deeply religious person will feel that his identity is being actualised if he holds political views that reflect her religiosity, such as support for prayer in school.

Attitudes that serve a value-expressive function, are not very likely to change because they are grounded in an individual’s concept of self. Attitude change will come about if a person’s self-concept changes.

 4) Ego-Defence Function

This attitude function protects people from accepting the bitter and real truth about themselves. It helps a person during his emotional conflict situations. The ego defence function is also used to define the ego and self-respect of a person. 

Thus, this function includes different defence mechanisms (rationalization, denial, repression etc) used by an individual to protect himself from psychological harm. Generally, the ego defensive function is used by an individual when he is frustrated and wants to satisfy his ego.

For example – One way children might defend themselves against the feelings of humiliation they have experienced in P.T. lessons is to adopt a strongly negative attitude toward all sports. People whose pride has suffered by allowing a defeat in sport might similarly adopt a defensive attitude. This function has psychiatric overtones. 

Positive attitudes towards ourselves, have a protective function (ie an ego-defensive role) in helping us preserve our self-image.

OB focus on employees’ job-related attitudes. These attitudes have positive or negative imaginations that employees hold about certain aspects of their work environment. Behavioural scientists have given the major focus on three job-related attitudes as shown in the figure:


1) Job satisfaction

2) Job Involvement

3) Organisational Commitment

4) Organisational Behaviour