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Attitudes alone do not influence behaviour but these act with other factors in the individual to influence his behaviour like personality, perception, motivation etc. Attitudes are also affected by the individual dimensions as well as the objects, persons or ideas. Features of Attitudes Attitudes refer to feelings or beliefs of individuals or groups of individuals The feelings and beliefs are directed towards other people, objects or ideas. For example, if a person says I like my job, it shows his positive attitude towards his job. Attitudes constitute a psychological phenomenon which cannot be directly observed. It can however be indirectly observed by observing its consequences. For example, if a person is very regular in his job, it can be inferred that he likes his job a lot. Attitudes are acquired over a period of time. The process of learning starts from childhood and continues throughout a persons life. Attitudes are evaluative statements, either favourable or unfavourable. When a person says he likes or dislikes something, his attitude is being expressed. Attitudes often result in and affect the behaviour of the people, i.e., they lead to an intended behaviour. An attitude may be unconsciously held like a prejudice. Many a times, we are not even clearly aware of our unconsciously held attitudes. Functions of Attitudes Attitudes serve four functions and hence influence behaviour
Instrumental or Utilitarian Attitudes aid in reaching a desired goal.

Instrumental attitudes are aroused by the activation of a need or cues that are associated with the attitude object and arouse favourable or unfavourable feelings.
Egodefensive Attitudes may be acquired and maintained to protect the

person from facing threats in the external world or from becoming aware of

his own unacceptable impulses. For example, male workers may feel threatened by the employment of female workers in the organisation and may develop prejudices against them. This attitude helps the male workers protect their ego and is known as Ego-defensive attitudes. These may be aroused by internal or external threats, frustrating events, build up or repressed impulses and suggestions by authoritarian sources.
Value orientation There are some attitudes which express a persons

values or enhance his self identity. These attitudes arise by conditions that threaten the self concept, or appeals to reassert the persons self image. For example, a person whose value system focuses on freedom will have a positive attitude towards decentralization of authority in the organization and flexible work schedules etc. Similarly, a person who is very ambitious will have a positive attitude towards a job that can offer better prospects and chances of promotion.
Knowledge Function The knowledge function of attitudes is based on

persons need to maintain a stable, and organized structure of the world. Attitudes provide a standard or a frame of reference against which a person evaluates aspects of his world. For example, Stereotyping In the absence of knowledge of a person, we may use a stereotyped attitude for judging the person.


Object, person, or idea Attitudes towards objects, person, or idea Behaviour towards objects, person, or idea Other influence on behaviour towards objects, person, or idea

Figure: Influence of attitudes on behaviour


The values of a person tell about his ideas about what is good or bad, what is right or wrong or desirable or undesirable. They reflect a moral tone. For example, Workers should be honest to their work is a statement of value. The honest workers are good is an evaluative statement and reveals the attitude of the person towards the honest workers. A person holds an honest worker to be good because of his values that workers should be honest towards their work.

Factors :
Psychological Factors The psychological make-up Perceptions, ideas,

beliefs, values, information etc of a person help to determine a persons attitudes. For example, if a person perceives that all superiors are exploitative, he is likely to develop a negative attitude towards his superior who in fact may not be exploitative.
Family Factors Since childhood, our family exerts a lot of influence in

shaping of our attitudes w.r.t. education, work, health, religion, politics, economics etc. Also, these attitudes are in tune with the socio-economic status in the society. For example, a person from a middle class family holds a different attitude towards spending money than a person from an affluent family.
Social Factors Societies differ w.r.t. language, culture, norms, values,

beliefs etc and all of these influence a persons attitudes. For example, Indians and Americans differ in their attitudes towards religion; Indians have a different attitude towards communism than Chinese. The different social classes transmit cultural behaviour patterns to various groups and families. These social classes also restrict behaviour between individuals of differing social classes.
Organisational Factors The organizational factors like nature of job,

office layout, working conditions, fellow workers, quality of supervision, monetory & non-monetory rewards associated with the job, informal groups, organizational policies all play an important role in shaping the job

attitudes of a person. For example, if a creative person finds his job to be repetitive and boring, he may develop a negative attitude towards his job.
Reference Groups A reference group is an interacting aggregation of

people that influences an individuals attitudes or behaviour. Theses reference groups include primary and secondary groups. Reference groups help an individual to learn his attitudes through the process of socialization. Socialisation is a process by which a new member learns the value system, the norms, the required behaviour patterns of the society. Primary groups play a very important role in the formation of attitudes.
Personality Factors Personality factors are very important in attitude

formation. These personality factors also majorly stem from the group and social factors only. People with authoritarian personality have been seen to have ethnocentric attitudes. The ethnocentric sticks to the straight and narrow view, holding conventional values. Similarly, people with conservative attitudes have been found to be relatively less educated and having less awareness of current events.
Economic Factors Economic factors like his economic status in the

society, rate of inflation in the economy, Governments economic policies and the countrys economic condition etc influence the attitudes of a person.
Political Factors Political factors like ideologies of the political parties,

political stability and the behaviour of political leaders affect the attitudes of the people.
Mass Media Attitudes are less stable as compared to values. For example,

advertising messages alter the attitude of the people towards a certain product or a service. Similarly, social messages on TV / newspapers can have mass appeal, as in the case of advertisements in favour of iodised salt and those against the use of drugs and tobacco products.

Changing Attitudes
Providing new information If new information is provided to the employees, their attitude is likely to change. For example, when union workers are promoted into management ranks who initially had antimanagement attitudes, they tend to become aware of what the company is doing to help the workers. Gradually, their

beliefs about management and their attitude towards the company undergo a change. Use of fear - Attitudes can also be changed by the use of fear. However, the degree of fear is important. People often ignore if only low levels of fear arousal are used. The warnings would not be of much effect on them. Similarly, if high degree of fear arousal are used, they would also be ineffective as people tend to reject them because they are too threatening and hence not believable. However, moderate levels of fear arousal help people to become aware of the situation and will change their attitudes. Resolving discrepancies Attitudes can be changed by resolving discrepancies between attitudes and behaviour. The theory of cognitive dissonance also states that people actively try to reduce the dissonance by attitude and behaviour change. Influence of peers and friends Persuasion by friends and peers help in attitude change. Peers with a high credibility exercises a significant influence on change on attitudes. Co-opting approach This says that people who are dissatisfied with a particular thing should be involved in improving things. For example, if a person feels that more needs to done in improving employee benefits, he should be involved in the employee benefits committee. In this way, he realizes that how actually these benefits are determined and in the process may change his attitude. Use of group pressure Group pressure helps in changing our opinions. By controlling important rewards and punishments, a group may exert a powerful influence in a particular direction. If a person deviates from the groups beliefs, the group will exert a greater pressure to bring the individual on line. A group exercises pressure on individuals to conform to group norms. Organisational changes Situational variables which are causing such an attitude should be tried to be changed. For example, if inadequate pay is the cause of the negative attiude, then pay increase may be planned. A change in situational variables like communication among people at work, nature of the job, management practices, style of supervision and work groups can also help in forming positive attitudes.