The Royal Spanish Academy mention three definitions of the word attitude, a term that comes from the Latin attitude. According to RAE, the attitude is the state of mind that is expressed in a certain way (as a conciliatory attitude). The other two definitions refer to the position: of the body of a person (when it transmits something effectively or when the posture is associated with the mood) or of an animal (when it manages to arrange attention for some matter).
Let’s start with three examples with this term: “I don’t like the attitude that Manuel is having with the employees”, “If you continue with that attitude, you will be left out of the team”, “The attitude of the leopard showed that the animal was not willing to be easily caught”.
A state of mind and nerves
Attitude has also been defined as a state of nervous and mental disposition, which is organized based on experiences and which guides or directs a subject’s response to certain events.
Therefore, the attitude is more of a social motivation rather than a biological motivation. From experience, people acquire a certain predisposition that allows them to respond to stimuli.
Attitude as active adaptation
An attitude is the way in which an individual actively adapts to its environment and is the consequence of a process cognitive, affective and behavioral.
Therefore, the Social psychology is responsible for studying the attitudes of human beings to predict possible behaviors. When the attitudes of an individual are observed, it is feasible to foresee their mode of action.
Attitudes fulfill various functions in social life. It may be the case of someone who adopts a defensive attitude and, in this way, is predisposed in a particular way to interactions. Attitude can also be oriented towards adaptation in an attempt to minimize conflicts.
Classification according to type
There are several types of attitudes:
A disinterested attitude It is what leads a person to keep another in mind not as a means to achieve something, but as an end to achieve their own benefit. To achieve it, four qualities are needed: availability, openness, acceptance and solicitude.
The manipulative attitude It is the one exercised by a person to achieve a personal goal and takes the other into account as a means, giving them enough attention to achieve their goal.
Interested attitude: it is caused by a situation of destitution. A person is deprived of something he needs and seeks by all means to recover or get his needs satisfied. The others are also a resource that can help you get out of that situation of helplessness.
A inclusive attitudeIt is the one that has a person who seeks not only his benefit but also that of those around him. It is based on close communication between two people whose goal is unification and integration.
Some theories about attitude
Throughout history there have been many theories about attitude, here we present some of them.
In the learning theories attitudes are learned just like everything in life. We capture new information and learn the feelings, actions and thoughts that are related to them. In this line of thought, people are conceived as passive subjects where learning is the trigger for the attitude they may take. It depends closely on the amount of positive and negative elements that the subject has learned.
The theories of cognitive consistency affirm that people seek coherence in their life and that on the basis of achieving it is that they vary their attitudes and thoughts to feel a uniqueness in their internal being because the presence of two states of consciousness (incoherence) makes them uncomfortable. In this case, the attitude would have to do with the succession of actions that ensure a balance for the individual.
In the theories of cognitive dissonance It is argued that, as explained in the previous theory, subjects feel uncomfortable when they possess ideas or attitudes that contradict each other (dissonance) and as a consequence they seek to reduce said dissonance. The same happens when a action that goes against what the subject believes or does not relate to the life they want to lead, who they are.
The look of psychology
From the perspective of psychology, attitudes can be made tangible in three ways: ideational, behavioral, or emotional. We will explain it with an example:
A supermarket cashier behaves kindly with a customer (the attitude is expressed behaviorally) but at the same time has a thought that cannot be seen: “I must be nice to this person” (expression at the ideational level); in turn, the cashier is not only doing it and thinking, but is feeling it (expression on an emotional level). Taking these three parts into account is essential to achieve Modify an attitude that does not go according to what we want.
Positive attitude vs. negative attitude
It is important to also establish the difference between positive and negative attitudes. The positive ones are those that collaborate with the individual to be able to face reality in a healthy and effective way, the negative ones are those that hinder this relationship of the individual with their environment. The freedom of the individual resides in can choose between one attitude and another at every moment.
Finally, it only remains to say that attitudes not only modify individual behavior, but also group behavior. A person with a positive attitude towards problems can encourage the group to get ahead and improve; while one with a negative attitude manages to “infect” him but to guide him in a conduct that will lead to failure.