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Attitude: Definition, Characteristics and ABC Model

by Team Businesspedia

“I like her attitude,” “He has a good attitude,” etc. Actually, it is characterized by the tendency to feel and behave in a particular way toward some object.

What is Attitude?

A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation.

Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli). An attitude can be a positive or negative evaluation of people, objects, events, activities, and ideas. It could be concrete, abstract or just about anything in your environment. 

Attitude Definition

Attitudes are evaluation statements either favourable or unfavourable or unfavourable concerning objects, people or events. They reflect how one feels about something.


 Attitude as an enduring organization of motivational, emotional, perceptual and cognitive processes with respect to some aspect of the individual’s world.

Krech and Crutchfield

Attitude is a tendency or predisposition to evaluate an object or symbol of that object in a certain way.

Katz and Scotland

Attitude is a mental and neutral state of readiness organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related.

G.W. Allport

ABC Model of attitude

Every attitude has three components that are represented in what is called the ABC model of attitudes:

  • A for affective,
  • B for behavioral, and
  • C for cognitive. 
ABC Model of attitude
ABC Model of attitude

ABC Model of attitude formation

1.Affective Component

First, the affective component refers to the emotional reaction one has toward an attitude object. Think of someone – we’ll name her Alice – who has ophidiophobia (a phobia of snakes). A snake is an attitude object. Whenever Alice is exposed to a snake – whether she sees one or thinks about one – she feels extreme anxiety and fear. This is only one component of this specific attitude, though; we will discuss the other two components a little later in this lesson.

Now, an attitude that is stemmed from or originally created by an emotion is called an affectively-based attitude. Attitudes about hot-button issues – such as politics, sex, and

religion – tend to be affectively-based, as they usually come from a person’s values. This type of attitude is used to express and validate our moral belief or value systems.

2.Behavioral Component

The next component of an attitude is the behavioral component, and it refers to the way one behaves when exposed to an attitude object. Think about Alice and her snake phobia again. We already identified the affective component of her attitude towards snakes – fear and anxiety. How do you think she behaves when it comes to snakes? Most likely, she avoids them whenever possible. If she does see one, she probably screams or cries. This behavior is the second component of that particular attitude.

3.Cognitive Component

The third and final component of an attitude is the cognitive component, and it refers to the thoughts and beliefs one has about an attitude object. We’ve already determined that Alice avoids snakes and is scared when she is exposed to them. But, what does she think about snakes? It’s likely she believes that all snakes are dangerous and gross. Beyond the physical and emotional reactions of her phobia, there is also this cognitive component of her attitude.

Characteristics of Attitude

  1. Attitudes are the complex combination of things we call personality, beliefs, values, behaviors, and motivations.
  2. It can fall anywhere along a continuum from very favorable to very unfavorable.
  3. All people, irrespective of their status or intelligence, hold attitudes.
  4. An attitude exists in every person’s mind. It helps to define our identity, guide our actions, and influence how we judge people.
  5. Although the feeling and belief components of attitude are internal to a person, we can view a person’s attitude from their resulting behavior.
  6. Attitude helps us define how we see situations and define how we behave toward the situation or object.
  7. It provides us with internal cognitions or beliefs and thoughts about people and objects.
  8. It can also be explicit and implicit. Explicit attitude is those that we are consciously aware of an implicit attitude is unconscious, but still, affect our behaviors.
  9. Attitudes cause us to behave in a particular way toward an object or person.
  10. An attitude is a summary of a person’s experience; thus, an attitude is grounded in direct experience predicts future behavior more accurately.
  11. It includes certain aspects of personality as interests, appreciation, and social conduct.
  12. It indicates the total of a man’s inclinations and feelings.
  13. An attitude is a point of view, substantiated or otherwise, true or false, which one holds towards an idea, object, or person.
  14. It has aspects such as direction, intensity, generality, or specificity.
  15. It refers to one’s readiness for doing Work.
  16. It may be positive or negative and may be affected by age, position, and education.

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