Attitude – Definition, Types, Characteristics, Factors and Functions

One of the most important steps you can take to achieve your highest potential in life is learning to monitor your attitude and its impact on your job performance, relationships, and the people around you.

In the mental state of each of us, it is often quite easy to generalize than to invest in a careful analysis of a particular event. Therefore, a person who suffers consecutive rejections may believe that all other potentials are likely to reject him over and over again.

Inherently, attitudes have a basic structure and are essentially formed by us, holding a specific thought for a long time will inevitably make it a permanent entity in the mind, it can be for better or for worse. That is, once a particular attitude is formed, it is most likely what comes out of a person.

What is an attitude?

It is a psychological construct, a mental and emotional entity that inherits or characterizes a person. They are complex and a state acquired through experiences , it is the predisposed mental state of an individual with respect to a value and rushes through a receptive expression towards a person, place, thing or event that in turn influences the thought and action of the individual.

Prominent psychologist Gordon Allport described this latent psychological construct as the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology . Attitude can be formed from a person’s past and present, key issues in studying attitudes include attitude strength, attitude change, consumer behavior, and attitude-behavior relationships.

Attitude characteristics

Attitude can be described as a tendency to react positively or negatively to a person or circumstances. Thus, the two main elements are this tendency or predisposition.

The characteristics are as follows:

  • They are the complex combination of things that we usually call personality , beliefs, values, behaviors and motivations.
  • It can fall anywhere along a continuum from very favorable to very unfavorable.
  • All people, regardless of their status or intelligence, have attitudes.
  • An attitude exists in the mind of every person.
  • It helps define our identity, guide our actions, and influence how we judge people.

Although the feeling and belief components of attitude are internal to a person, we can see a person’s attitude from their resulting behavior.

Types of attitudes

A person can have thousands of attitudes, but most of the research has been related to three attitudes.


People who have a positive attitude will pay attention to the good rather than the bad in people, situations, events, etc. They will not consider a mistake or failure as an obstacle, but as an opportunity, they learn from mistakes and move forward in life.

The traits that represent a positive attitude:

  • Confidence.
  • Optimism.
  • Joy / Happiness.
  • Sincerity.
  • Sense of responsibility.
  • Flexibility.
  • Determination.
  • Reliability.
  • Tolerance.
  • Willingness to adapt.
  • Modesty.
  • Diligence.


People with a negative attitude ignore the good and pay attention to the bad in people, situations, events, etc. Also, they are likely to complain about changes, rather than adapt to the changing environment. Also, they might blame others for their failure.

The traits that represent a negative attitude are:

  • Ira.
  • Hatred.
  • Pessimism.
  • Frustration.
  • Doubt.
  • Resentment.
  • Jealousies .
  • Inferiority.


People with a neutral attitude do not give enough importance to situations or events, they ignore the problem, leaving it for someone else to solve it. Also, they don’t feel the need to change. Its traits include:

  • Complacency.
  • Indifference.
  • Detachment.
  • Feeling of being disconnected.
  • Not emotional.

Components of attitude

Attitudes are simply expressions of what we like or dislike about various things, they represent our evaluations, preferences or rejections based on the information we receive.

It is a general tendency to think or act in a certain way with respect to some object or situation, often accompanied by feelings. It is a learned predisposition to respond consistently with respect to a given object, this can include evaluations of people, problems, objects or events, such evaluations are positive or negative, but sometimes they can also be uncertain.

This is the way of thinking, and they shape how we relate to the world, both at work and outside of work. The researchers also suggest that there are several different components that make up attitudes.

One can see this by looking at the three components of an attitude: cognition, affect, and behavior.


The cognitive component of attitudes refers to the beliefs, thoughts and attributes that we would associate with an object. It is the opinion or belief segment of an attitude, it refers to that part of the attitude that is related to the general knowledge of a person.

These are usually revealed in generalities or stereotypes, such as “all babies are adorable,” “smoking is unhealthy,” and so on.


The affective component is the emotional or feeling segment of an attitude, it is related to the statement that affects another person.

These are feelings or emotions that arise about something, such as fear or hatred. Using the example above, someone might have the attitude that they love all babies because they are cute or that they hate smoking because it is unhealthy.


The behavioral component of an attitude consists of a person’s tendencies to behave in a particular way towards an object. It refers to that part that reflects the intention of a person in the short or long term.

Using the example above, the behavioral attitude perhaps: “I can’t wait to kiss the baby,” or “We better keep those smokers out of the library, and so on.

Factors of an attitude

By attitudes, we refer to the beliefs, feelings and tendencies of action of an individual or group of individuals towards objects, ideas and people, these imply some knowledge of a situation.

However, the essential aspect of attitude is found in the fact that some characteristic feeling or emotion is experienced and, as might be expected, a definite tendency to action is associated. Subjectively, then, the important factor is feeling or emotion.

There are a number of different factors that can influence how and why attitudes are formed. These are:


The attitude of a person is determined by psychological factors such as ideas, values, beliefs, perception , etc. All of these have a complex role in determining a person’s attitude.

Values ​​are ideals, guiding principles in life, or general goals that people strive to achieve. Beliefs are cognitions about the world: subjective probabilities that an object has a particular attribute or that an action will lead to a particular result can be patently and unequivocally false.

Another important factor that affects attitude is symbolic interactionism, these are full of powerful symbols loaded with affection that can lead to selective perception .


Every society has the majority of people who prefer to lead a harmonious life, they try to avoid unnecessary friction from conflicts with people. Naturally, they are inclined to develop positive attitudes towards most people and problems.

Our attitudes can facilitate and maintain our relationships with members of positively valued groups. Social roles and norms can have a strong influence on attitudes.

Relating to the way people are expected to behave in a particular role or context, social norms involve society’s rules about what behaviors are considered appropriate.


The family is the most powerful source for the formation of attitudes. Parents, older brother or sister provide information on various things. The attitudes developed by an individual, whether positive or negative as a result of family influence, are very powerful and difficult to change.


An attitude can imply a bias, in which we prejudge a problem without giving impartial consideration to all the evidence. Prejudices are preconceived ideas or judgments where some attitudes are developed towards other people, objects, etc.

If we are prejudiced against a person who is accused of a crime, we can consider him guilty regardless of the evidence, we can also be harmed in favor of something.

Personal experience

To be the basis of attitudes, personal experiences have left a strong impression, therefore, the attitude will be more easily formed when the personal experience involves emotional factors, the appreciation will be a deeper experience and a longer follow-up.


The media, such as television, radio, have a great influence on shaping people’s opinions and beliefs. There is new information about something that provides the basis for the emergence of new cognitive attitudes towards it.

Educational and religious institutions.

As a system, educational and religious institutions have a strong influence on the shaping of attitudes because they establish the basis of understanding and moral concepts within the individual.

Understanding the good and the bad, the dividing line between something that can and cannot be done is drawn from the center of educational and religious institutions.


Clinical psychologists have generally recognized that physique, health, and vitality are important factors in determining fit, and malnutrition or illness or accidents have often been found to have so seriously interfered with normal development that they have occurred. severe behavioral disorders .

Economic status and occupations

Our economic and occupational positions also contribute to the formation of attitudes.

They determine, in part, our attitudes toward unions and management and our belief that certain laws are “good” or “bad.” Our socioeconomic background influences our present and future attitudes.

They reflect more than 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 that an individual can give to a specific subject.

In general, we tend to assume that people behave according to their attitudes, yet social psychologists have found that attitudes and actual behavior are not always perfectly aligned.

Functions of an attitude

Any particular attitude can satisfy one or more functions. The most important function of an attitude can only be determined by considering it in relation to the person who possesses it and the environment in which it operates.

Consequently, what appears to be the same attitude can have quite different purposes depending on who has it and where or when it is relevant to them, these differ in strength.

Strong and central attitudes refer to important attitude objects that are strongly related to the self, are often related to important values, and can serve as the individual.

Ego – Defensive

It refers to maintaining attitudes that protect our self-esteem or that justify actions that make us feel guilty, this function involves psychoanalytic principles where people use defense mechanisms to protect themselves from psychological damage. Mechanisms include denial, repression, projection, rationalization, etc.

For example , an older manager whose decisions are continually questioned by a younger subordinate manager may feel that the latter is brash, arrogant, immature, and inexperienced. In truth, the younger subordinate may be right in challenging decisions.

The older manager may not be a very effective leader and may constantly make poor decisions. On the other hand, he will not admit this, but will try to protect the ego by blaming the other party.

Expressive value

While defensive attitudes of the ego are formed to protect a person’s self-image, attitudes of expressive value allow the expression of the person’s core values, tend to establish our identity and obtain our social approval, which shows us who we are and what we stand for.

Some attitudes are important to a person because they express values ​​that are an integral part of that person’s self-concept. Our attitudes of expressive value are closely related to our self-concept.

One whose core value is freedom, the individual can express very positive attitudes towards decentralization of authority in the organization, flexible work hours, and relaxation of dress standards.


The knowledge function refers to our need that is consistent and relatively stable, this allows us to predict what is likely to happen, and thus gives us a sense of control. Some attitudes are useful because they help make the world more understandable, help people attribute causes to events, and direct attention to characteristics or situations that are likely to be helpful in making sense of them.

Consequently, they help to make the world more understandable, predictable and knowable, knowing a person’s attitude helps us to predict their behavior.

For example , people unfamiliar with nuclear power may develop an attitude that it is dangerous and should not be used as a source of energy. The stereotype is another example, in the absence of knowledge about one person, we can use a stereotypical attitude to judge another.

Utility vehicle

Utilitarian people adopt attitudes that are rewarding and that help them avoid punishment. In other words, any attitude that is adopted in the self-interest of a person is considered to fulfill a utilitarian function.

Consider you have a condo, people with condos pay property taxes, and as a result, they don’t want to pay more taxes, if those factors lead to your attitude that “property tax increases are bad,” your attitude is fulfilling a utilitarian function.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.