What Is Attitudes Social Psychology?


Martha Robinson

Attitudes are an integral part of social psychology. They play a significant role in influencing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards people, objects, and events in our environment. In this article, we will delve into the concept of attitudes and explore their various dimensions.

The Definition of Attitudes

Attitudes can be defined as evaluations or judgments that individuals hold about people, objects, or ideas. They represent a person’s overall positive or negative feelings towards something and can range from favorable to unfavorable.

Attitudes are not merely opinions; they also include emotional reactions and predispositions to act in a certain way. They are shaped by personal experiences, cultural influences, social norms, and individual beliefs.

Components of Attitudes

An attitude consists of three main components:

  • Cognitive Component: This component involves the beliefs and thoughts associated with an attitude. It reflects what we know or believe about the subject matter.
  • Affective Component: The affective component deals with the emotional aspect of an attitude.

    It encompasses our feelings and emotions towards the object of our attitude.

  • Behavioral Component: The behavioral component represents how an attitude influences our actions or behaviors. It includes our intentions to approach or avoid the object of our attitude.

All three components work together to form a complete attitude that guides our responses in various situations.

Sources of Attitudes


Socialization plays a crucial role in shaping attitudes. During childhood and adolescence, individuals acquire attitudes through interactions with family members, peers, teachers, and other significant figures in their lives. These social influences shape our beliefs, values, and attitudes towards various aspects of life.

Direct Experience:

Personal experiences also contribute to the formation of attitudes. Positive or negative encounters with people, objects, or events can influence our attitudes towards them. For example, if someone has had a negative experience with dogs in the past, they may develop a negative attitude towards all dogs.

Media and Advertising:

The media and advertising play a significant role in shaping attitudes. Advertisements often portray products or ideas in a positive light to influence consumer attitudes and behaviors. Similarly, media coverage can shape public opinion and attitudes towards certain issues or individuals.

Attitude Change

Attitudes are not fixed or permanent. They can change over time due to various factors:

  • Social Influence: People’s attitudes can be influenced by the opinions and behaviors of others. This is known as social influence.

    Conformity, peer pressure, and social norms are examples of how social influence can lead to attitude change.

  • Cognitive Dissonance: When individuals experience inconsistencies between their beliefs or attitudes and their behaviors, it creates cognitive dissonance. This discomfort motivates them to change their attitudes to align with their actions.
  • Persuasion: Persuasive messages from credible sources can also lead to attitude change. These messages appeal to reason or emotions and provide new information or arguments that challenge existing attitudes.

The Importance of Attitudes

Attitudes have significant implications for individuals and society as a whole:

  • Social Behavior: Attitudes influence our interactions with others. They shape our behavior towards individuals or groups, impacting relationships, cooperation, and conflict.
  • Consumer Behavior: Attitudes play a crucial role in consumer decision-making.

    They influence what products we buy, which brands we prefer, and the advertisements that resonate with us.

  • Social Change: Attitudes are instrumental in driving social change. When individuals collectively hold attitudes that challenge the status quo, they can mobilize movements, advocate for causes, and bring about societal transformations.

In conclusion, attitudes are fundamental aspects of social psychology. They represent our evaluations and judgments towards people, objects, or ideas.

Understanding the components and sources of attitudes helps psychologists comprehend human behavior and societal dynamics. By studying attitudes, researchers aim to unravel the complexities of human cognition and emotions.