Attitude – Definition, Features, Components, Functions and How to Change Attitude

Definition – Attitudes are evaluative statements or judgements concerning objects, people or events.

Features of Attitude

  • Refers to the feelings and beliefs of individuals or groups of individuals.
  • Leads to behaviour or action.
  • May be positive, negative, or ambivalent.
  • Attitude strongly influences individuals’ thinking about the social world even if the influence cannot be seen in their overt behaviour.
  • Attitudes are enduring and difficult to change.
  • Every person, irrespective of status or intelligence, has an attitude.
  • Attitudes are directed toward some stimuli.

Components of Attitude

1. Cognitive or Informational Component

This refers to the belief that a person has about an object.

For example: Mr. X might believe that he has weak reflexes or alertness and that he might cause accidents, resulting in him never trying driving.

2.Affective or Emotional Component

This refers to an individual’s feelings about an object.

For example: Mr. X fears driving. So, in cases where he has to drive, his fear overcomes his rational mind and he fails.

3.Behavioural Component

This refers to an individual’s intent to act in a certain manner towards an object.

For example: Mr. X was in an accident when driving a vehicle once, which has kept him from driving until today.

Functions of Attitude

1.Knowledge function

Attitudes have an effect on our perceptions and thoughts about everything. In the absence of knowledge on a specific individual or an object, we use our attitudes to organize and understand what is perceived.

Example: People may cultivate negative attitudes towards a new product if they are unaware of its usage.

2.Value-expressive function

Attitudes are expressions of our core values and beliefs. An expression of attitude is an expression of the aforementioned beliefs and values that give each individual a unique self-identity.

Example: An individual might choose to commute to work on a bicycle because he or she values health and is environmentally conscious.

3.Ego-defensive function

People often cultivate and sustain certain attitudes to defend their own self-image.

Example: A person may strongly defend a poor purchase decision or investment as being correct at the time or as the consequence of heeding poor counsel from another person.

4.Self-esteem function

Attitudes help us keep or increase our self-worth.

We stand by views that we believe to be right, and expressing such views makes us feel superior to others.

5.Impression motivation function

Occasionally, attitudes are employed to impress other people. Often, we desire to impress others by expressing the right views or opinions.

How to Change Attitude?

1.Providing New Information

  • People generally foster negative attitudes towards something or someone owing to the lack of information.
  • Their attitudes change when they are faced with new information.

2. Fear

  • When the fear level is low, people ignore a message.
  • When it is moderate, people become aware of a situation and alter their attitudes.
  • When the fear level is high, people reject the message because they perceive it as threatening and unimaginable.

3. Persuasion

  • This refers to efforts to change others’ attitudes by using messages of various types.

4. Co-opting Approach

  • This involves altering the attitude of a person who belongs to a different group by involving him/her in the target group.

5. Influence of Friends and Peers

  • When an individual is convinced by his/her friends about changing his/her attitude towards something or someone, he/she does so readily because of trust in friends.


It refers to efforts to alter others’ attitudes by using various types of messages.

It involves three elements:

  1. Source
  2. Communication
  3. Audience

The factors that influence persuasion include the following:

  1. The credibility of the Communicator
  2. The attractiveness of the Communicator
  3. Rapid speakers
  4. The two-sided approach of communicator
  5. Distraction in message
  6. Emotions
  7. Intention of message

Cognitive Dissonance

“An unpleasant internal state that results when individuals notice the inconsistency between two or more of their attitudes or between their attitudes and their behaviour.”

It is the discomfort experienced by individuals when they notice the inconsistency between their attitudes or between their attitude and behaviour.

Example#1: A man who values being eco-friendly just bought a new car only to discover that it has a bad fuel economy.

Example#2:When a person praises another whom he/she does not like, there exists inconsistency between the person’s negative attitude towards the other person and positive behaviour. This is termed cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance can be reduced in three direct ways

  1. Change attitude or behaviour: To make sure they are consistent with each other.
  2. Seek new information: To cement attitude or behaviour.
  3. Trivialization: It is a technique to reduce dissonance in which the importance ascribed to inconsistent attitudes and behaviours is reduced cognitively.\
  4. In indirect ways, the differences between attitude and behaviour remain, but the unpleasant feelings or discomfort experienced by individualsbecause of such differences can be alleviated.

Job Attitude

Attitudes that an individual holds towards his/her job. There are three types of job attitudes:

 1. Job satisfaction

A set of favourable or unfavourable feelings that employees have towards their work.

 2. Job involvement

The extents to which employees involve themselves in their jobs, invest time and energy in them and see work as a central part of their lives.

 3. Organisational commitment

An employee’s identification with the organisation and feeling of pride as the organisation’s employee.