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attitudea learnt and enduring tendency to perceive or act towards persons or situations in a particular way.
The concept of attitude has provoked much consideration and investigation, both by psychologists and sociologists, as it incorporates individual and social aspects. Psychologists emphasize the conditions under which an individual develops attitudes and integrates them as part of the personality Social psychologists are particularly interested in the way attitudes function within a social Setting. Sociologists associate social behaviours with particular social structures and situations, e.g. class relations.
There is a variety of definitions of attitude (e.g. Allport, 1935; Haber and Fried, 1975; Rokeach, 1960), some imply that holding an attitude leads to behaving in a certain way, others encompass the idea that an attitude may only exist mentally, since overt behaviour can be constrained situationally It is therefore useful to see attitudes as involving three elements:
- a cognitive component – beliefs and ideas;
- an affective component – values and emotions;
- a behavioural component -predisposition to act and actions (Secord and Backman, 1964).
the state of subjective readiness or predisposition to a given activity in a given situation. Attitudes were first identified in 1888 by the German psychologist L. Lange, who was studying errors of perception. The Soviet psychologist D. N. Uznadze, in working out a general psychological theory of attitudes, presented experimental proof of an individual subject’s general mental readiness to respond to a need activated in a given situation (actual attitudes). Furthermore, Uznadze determined the laws governing the reinforcement of such a state of readiness through the repeated recurrence of situations in which the given need can be satisfied (fixed attitudes). According to Uznadze, attitudes accumulate past experiences and thus mediate the stimulating effect of external conditions, creating a balance between the subject and the environment.
Social attitudes have been the subject of research in the USSR (Sh. Nadirashvili and I. Gomelauri) as well as abroad, where social psychologists (for example, F. Heider, S. Asch, M. Rosenberg, and L. Festinger in the USA) attribute a fixed set of mental attitudes to the individual in relation to society. Such studies have revealed the complex structure of social attitudes, whose components are classified as affective, cognitive, and behavioral (the latter describing readiness for action)—that is, forms of perceptual and behavioral predisposition with respect to social objects and situations. It is presumably possible to distinguish, in the structure of the psyche, a hierarchical system of predispositions to action on various levels of regulation of conduct. This organized system of predispositions consists of the following categories: the most simple and unconscious attitudes toward the simplest situations and objects; the more complex social attitudes that govern social conduct; and the individual’s value orientations, which are products of the interaction between higher social needs and circumstances and which mediate the individual’s overall social behavior in different spheres of activity.
REFERENCESUznadze, D. N. Eksperimental’nye osnovy psikhologii ustanovki. Tbilisi, 1961.
Uznadze, D. N. Psikhologicheskie issledovaniia. Moscow, 1966.
Nadirashvili, Sh. A. Poniatie ustanovki v obshchei i sotsial’noi psikhologii. Tbilisi, 1974.
Prangishvili, A. S. Issledovaniia po psikhologii ustanovki. Tbilisi, 1967.
Shikhirev, P. N. “Issledovaniia sotsial’noi ustanovki v SShA.” Voprosy filosofii, 1973, no. 2.
Iadov, V. A. “O dispozitsionnoi reguliatsii sotsial’nogo povedeniia lichnosti.” In the collection Metodologicheskie problemy sotsial’noi psikhologii. Moscow, 1975.
Attitude Organization and Change. New Haven, 1960.
Rokeach, M. “The Nature of Attitudes.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 1. New York, 1968.
McGuire, W. J. “The Nature of Attitudes and Attitude Change.” In Handbook of Social Psychology, vol. 3. Reading, 1968.
V. A. IADOV