Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

Functions of Attitude

It is common to see people reacting differently to the same situation and have different opinions about the same person. Some people find goodness in every person while others find something bad in everyone. Some people are happy in their organisation while others are unhappy and dissatisfied in the same situation. William Shakespeare rightly said, ‘There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.’


In psychology, attitude refers to a set of emotions, beliefs and behaviour toward a particular object, person, thing or event. Attitude is often a result of experience or upbringing and it can have a powerful influence over behaviour.


Attitude is a learned tendency to evaluate people, issues, objects, events, activities, or ideas in a certain way. It is a psychological tendency that is expressed by the evaluation of a particular entity with some degree of favour or disfavour. It may range from extremely negative to extremely positive.


There are three different components of attitude, which are sometimes referred to as CAB or the ABCs of attitude.


1. Cognitive component


This part of attitude deals with your thoughts, beliefs or knowledge about a subject or an object. For example: ‘I believe spiders are dangerous.’


2. Affective component


This part of attitude explains how an object, person, issue or event makes you feel. For example, if you believe that spiders are dangerous, you may feel: ‘I am scared of spiders.’


3. Behavioural component


It explains how your attitude influences your actions or behaviour. For example, if you are scared of spiders as you believe them to be dangerous, you may say: ‘I will avoid spiders and scream if I see one.’ Attitude can be of two types:

1. Explicit: We are consciously aware of some aspects of our attitude and we also know how they clearly influence our behaviour and beliefs.

2. Implicit: We are unconscious or unaware of such thoughts as they are deeply ingrained in our mind. However, such subconscious thoughts also deeply influence our beliefs and behaviour.


Duality of Attitude


Carl Jung, one of the founders of psychoanalysis, defines attitude as ‘a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way’. Attitude is usually found in pairs. Within this broad definition, Jung defines several kinds of attitude. They are as follows:


1. Conscious and the Unconscious


The presence of these two kinds of attitude is extremely frequent, one conscious and the other unconscious. Webster’s dictionary defines consciousness as ‘awareness, especially of something within oneself’. Our conscious mind refers to our awareness of our own thoughts, images, feelings, attitudes, beliefs and sensations. Conscious attitude implies that we are aware of our own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.


The unconscious mind represents that part of our life experience of which we are unaware. Our unconscious mind is like that part of an iceberg that remains underwater. Our conscious mind, likened to the tip of an iceberg, represents only a small fraction of your total mind (conscious plus unconscious). We are aware of our conscious attitude but unaware of the unconscious attitude which lies deep in our mind.


2. Extraversion and Introversion


People differ in their attitude when dealing with others. They can be extrovert or introvert with the following characteristics.

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