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An attitude is a hypothetical
construct that represents an individual's degree of like or
dislike for an item. Attitudes are generally positive or negative
views of a person, place, thing, or event-- this is often referred
to as the attitude object. People can also be conflicted or
ambivalent toward an object, meaning that they simultaneously
possess both positive and negative attitudes toward the item in

Attitudes are judgments. They develop on the ABC model

(affect, behavior, and cognition). The affective response is an
emotional response that expresses an individual's degree of
preference for an entity. The behavioral intention is a verbal
indication or typical behavioral tendency of an individual. The
cognitive response is a cognitive evaluation of the entity that
constitutes an individual's beliefs about the object. Most
attitudes are the result of either direct experience or
observational learning from the environment.

Components of Attitudes
Attitudes have mainly three basic components.

1) Emotional

2) Informational

3) Behavioural

Emotional Components

Emotional components involve person’s feelings or affect

positive, neutral or negative about an object. Although many
fundamental issues remain unresolved, there is recent renewed
attention given to emotion, especially as it relates to the field
of organisational behaviour. In addition, the expression of
emotions- either positive like customer service representative;
negative, like a bill collector or a police officer; or neutral like
an academic administrator or public servant- is also important
to work behaviour. The term emotional labour has emerged in
recent years to represent the work people are asked to perform
beyond their physical and mental contributions. Like physical
and mental labour, this emotional labour can take its toll in
terms of exhaustion and stress.


The informal component consists of the beliefs and

information the individual has about the object. It makes no
difference whether or not this information is empirically real or
correct. A supervisor may believe that two weeks of training is
necessary before a worker can effectively conduct a particular
process. In reality, the average worker may be able to perform
successfully after only four days of training. Yet the information
the supervisor is using (that two weeks is necessary) is the key
to his attitude about training.


The behavioural component consists of a person’s

tendencies to behave in a particular way towards an object. For
example the supervisor may assign two weeks of training to all
his new people.

Of the three components of attitude, behavioural

component can be directly observed. One cannot see other
person’s feelings or beliefs. These two components can only be


Attitude is often substituted for knowledge. In the absence

of knowledge, we use our attitude to organise and make sense
out of the perceived object or person.

Eg : People who are not familiar with nuclear energy may

develop an attitude that is dangerous and should not be used
as an energy source. Stereotyping is another example. In the
absence of knowledge about a person, we may use a
stereotyped attitude for judging the person.


An attitude may develop because either the attitude

or the object of the attitude is instrumental to obtain rewards or
avoid punishments. In some cases the attitude is a means to an
end. A worker finds that when he expresses a negative attitude
towards his boss, his co-workers pay attention to and
sympathise with him, but when he expresses a positive
attitude, he is ignored or chastened. The negative attitude is
instrumental in obtaining rewards and avoiding punishment. In
another case, the object is a means to an end, and the attitude
develops from association of the object and its outcome.

Ego-defence function

People often form and maintain certain attitudes to

protect their own self- images. For example, workers may feel
threatened by the employment or advancement of minority or
female workers in their organisation. Threatened workers may
develop an attitude that such newcomers are less qualified,
and they might mistreat these workers. An ego defensive
attitude is formed and used to cope with a feeling of guilt or
threat. Unless this feeling is removed, this kind of attitude will
remain unchanged.


Our attitude reflects our value systems. And our

value expressive attitudes are closely related to our self-
concept. One whose central values is freedom, the individual
may express very positive attitude towards decentralisation of
authority in the organisation, flexible work schedules, and
relaxation of dress standards.