The Psychology of Attitudes

Attitudes in a psychological context are defined as “the tendency to
respond in a certain way toward certain issues, products, objects, or
events” (Seamon & Kenrick 661).This consideration puts the focus on how
attitudes impact on how people think.However, as Seamon & Kenrick note,
psychologists studying attitudes are also particularly interested in how
Thefirst interest in attitudes occurred in the 1920s.At this
point, the interest in psychology was largely confined to experimental
techniques, where aspects of psychology were tested and measured.
Thurstone used this approach to test people’s attitude toward different
ethnic groups, with people asked to rate various statements about the
Chinese (Jones).This method was essential a survey, with the survey a
rating tool for recognizing people’s attitudes.While this method
identified attitudes, it did nothing to try and explain how attitudes were
This focus on how attitudes are formed came later.Zimbardo and
Leippe described what they termed an attitude system.This system
describes four components that make up an attitude.Thefirst component is
cognition, which refers to beliefs, thoughts, or ideas.The second
component is affect, which refers to feelings and emotions.The third
component is behavioral intentions, which refers to decisions to act in
certain ways.The fourth component is the behavior, which refers to the
actual actions taken.To explain how these components combine, it is
useful to offer an example.Consider the case of a person who has an
attitude about saving the rainforests.This attitude would be based on
some kind of cognition.For example, the person might think that the
rainforests are being destroyed and that future generations will suffer
because of this.This attitude would also be likely to involve emotions,
such as the person feeling sad about the destruction, or ang…

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