You meet your parents, family members, friends, teachers and many other people over and over again. Gradually you start ‘thinking’ about their behaviour towards you. You experience certain kind of ‘feeling’ towards them, and start ‘behaving’ toward them in a particular manner. In other words by ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’ and ‘behaving’ you come to form an attitude towards the people, events, objects and everything that exists in the social world.
Attitudes are defined as favourable or unfavourable evaluations of people, objects, and situations. We communicate attitudes in the form of statements such as: “I like mangoes”, “I enjoy classical music”, or “I do not enjoy rock music”.
When we use words such as ‘like’, ‘dislike’, ‘love’, ‘hate’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ we are describing our attitude towards objects, people or issues. Attitude consists of three aspects - cognitive, affective and behavioural.
Cognitive part: It refers to the thinking that brings about the development of a belief about the attitude object.
Affective part: It refers to the direction (positive or negative feeling), intensity of a person’s evaluation or the emotion experienced towards the attitude object.
Behavioural part: It is the likelihood of acting in a certain manner towards the attitude object.
These three components, thinking, feeling and behaving, come together and form an attitude towards a person or an object. At times these components may be inconsistent. Thus, you may hold a positive attitude towards a neighbour - he is intelligent and hardworking (positive qualities), but you may not like his or her manners. Or you may not like your neighbour but you may still help him or her whenthe situation demands. Both the possibilities are likely to occur.
Normally if you hold a strong attitude, all the three components of attitude remain consistent and do not contradict each other. For example, if a well known cricketer, like Sachin Tendulkar, is visiting your neighbourhood and you are extremely fond (feeling) of playing and watching cricket, then you will actively plan (thinking process), and visit the venue (behaviour). Or, you may find Sachin Tendulkar to be an excellent cricket player (thinking part), yet are not a keen player yourself nor do you watch the game of cricket regularly (low liking emotional experience) and hence may decide not to put in the effort to meet him (low probability of behaviour).
Attitudes are held for a long period of time. Attitudes change especially when you undergo new experiences. Also, they are characteristics of a person, and differ in type and strength from person to person depending upon the socialization and interaction with the social world.