- Lukas J. Wolf, Lukas J. WolfDepartment of Psychology, Cardiff University
- Geoffrey HaddockGeoffrey HaddockDepartment of Psychology, Cardiff University
- and Gregory R. MaioGregory R. MaioDepartment of Psychology, Cardiff University
“Attitudes” refer to summary evaluations of people, groups, ideas, and other objects, reflecting whether individuals like or dislike them. The study of attitudes takes a central position in social psychology. Decades of research have demonstrated that attitudes are important for understanding how individuals perceive the world and how they behave.
One of the key aspects of attitudes is their cognitive, affective, and behavioral content. That is, an individual may associate an attitude object with cognitions or beliefs, emotional reactions, and intentions or past actions. The attitude itself may also have a simple (e.g., positive or negative) structure or a more conflicted, ambivalent (e.g., simultaneously positive and negative) structure; it may serve different psychological functions (e.g., simplification of knowledge, value-expression); and it may vary in strength. Diverse techniques have been developed to measure attitudes, showing that they are useful predictors of behavior and that the strength of this link depends on diverse factors, such as how strongly the attitude is held, the individual’s personality, and the context. Overall, the long history of research on attitudes has supported their considerable theoretical and practical relevance.