Attitudes are evaluations people make about objects, ideas, events, or other people. Attitudes can be positive or negative. Explicit attitudes are conscious beliefs that can guide decisions and behavior. Implicit attitudes are unconscious beliefs that can still influence decisions and behavior. Attitudes can include up to three components: cognitive, emotional, and behavioral.
Example: Jane believes that smoking is unhealthy, feels disgusted when people smoke around her, and avoids being in situations where people smoke.
Researchers study three dimensions of attitude: strength, accessibility, and ambivalence.
Behavior does not always reflect attitudes. However, attitudes do determine behavior in some situations:
Example: Wyatt has an attitude that eating junk food is unhealthy. When he is at home, he does not eat chips or candy. However, when he is at parties, he indulges in these foods.
Example: Megan might have a general attitude of respect toward seniors, but that would not prevent her from being disrespectful to an elderly woman who cuts her off at a stop sign. However, if Megan has an easygoing attitude about being cut off at stop signs, she is not likely to swear at someone who cuts her off.