Attitude - Advocacy Skills Unit II
Meaning And Definition
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). Four major components of attitude are :
- Affective: emotions or feelings.
- Cognitive: belief or opinions held consciously.
- Conative: inclination for action.
- Evaluative: positive or negative response to stimuli.
An attitude is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object). Prominent psychologist Gordon Allport once described attitudes “the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology.”. Attitude can be formed from a person’s past and present. Attitude is also measurable and changeable as well as influencing the person’s emotion and behavior.
In lay language, attitude may refer to the distinct concept of mood, or be especially synonymous with teenage rebellion.
An attitude can be defined as a positive or negative evaluation of people, objects, event, activities, ideas, or just about anything in your environment, but there is debate about precise definitions. Eagly and Chaiken, for example, define an attitude “a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor.” Though it is sometimes common to define an attitude as affect toward an object, affect (i.e., discrete emotions or overall arousal) is generally understood to be distinct from attitude as a measure of favorability.
This definition of attitude allows for one’s evaluation of an attitude object to vary from extremely negative to extremely positive, but also admits that people can also be conflicted or ambivalent toward an object meaning that they might at different times express both positive and negative attitude toward the same object. This has led to some discussion of whether individual can hold multiple attitudes toward the same object.
Whether attitudes are explicit (i.e., deliberately formed) versus implicit (i.e., subconscious) has been a topic of considerable research. Research on implicit attitudes, which are generally unacknowledged or outside of awareness, uses sophisticated methods involving people’s response times to stimuli to show that implicit attitudes exist (perhaps in tandem with explicit attitudes of the same object). Implicit and explicit attitudes seem to affect people’s behavior, though in different ways. They tend not to be strongly associated with each other, although in some cases they are. The relationship between them is poorly understood.
Attitude is one of Jung’s 57 definitions in Chapter XI of Psychological Types. Jung’s definition of attitude is a “readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way” (Jung,  1971:par. 687). Attitudes very often come in pairs, one conscious and the other unconscious. Within this broad definition Jung defines several attitudes.
The main (but not only) attitude dualities that Jung defines are the following.
- Consciousness and the unconscious. The “presence of two attitudes is extremely frequent, one conscious and the other unconscious. This means that consciousness has a constellation of contents different from that of the unconscious, a duality particularly evident in neurosis” (Jung,  1971: par. 687).
- Extraversion and introversion. This pair is so elementary to Jung’s theory of types that he labeled them the “attitude-types”.
- Rational and irrational attitudes. “I conceive reason as an attitude” (Jung,  1971: par. 785).
- The rational attitude subdivides into the thinking and feeling psychological functions, each with its attitude.
- The irrational attitude subdivides into the sensing and intuition psychological functions, each with its attitude. “There is thus a typical thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuitive attitude” (Jung,  1971: par. 691).
- Individual and social attitudes. Many of the latter are “isms”.
In addition, Jung discusses the abstract attitude. “When I take an abstract attitude…” (Jung,  1971: par. 679). Abstraction is contrasted with creationism.“CREATIONISM. By this I mean a peculiarity of thinking and feeling which the antithesis of abstraction is” (Jung,  1971: par. 696). For example: “I hate his attitude for being Sarcastic.”
Types Of Attitudes
Attitude is something that lies between emotions and thought processing. Attitude may be positive ornegative. If someone has good feelings about something e.g. towards his/her work, or people, then it ispositive attitude otherwise it would be negative.
The predisposition that results in desirable outcomes for individuals and organizations can bedescribed as positive attitude. Positive attitudes are rewarded. It means the individual isencouraged to do the same thing in future.
The tendency of a person that results in an undesirable outcome for individuals andorganizations can be described as negative attitude. Negative attitudes are punished in order todiscourage the same action in future.
Formation of Attitude
Individual attitudes develop through the interaction of complex forces and are learnt.
And what is learnt can be unlearned or changed. We develop our attitudes from copying those people who are important to us (significant others), particularly parents and siblings. Religious beliefs are good examples
Rewards and punishments associated with certain actions make individuals acquire beliefs and accordingly result in building personal attitudes. Demonstration effect from friends and playmates play an important role towards developing attitudes. Media or persuasive communications also help develop certain attitudes. Often our attitudes towards politics come from information or persuasive communications from media
Daniel Katz proposed a functionalist theory of attitudes. He takes the view that attitudes are determined by the functions they serve for us. People hold given attitudes because these attitudes help them achieve their basic goals. Katz distinguishes four types of psychological functions that attitudes meet.
- Instrumental – we develop favorable attitudes towards things that aid or reward us. We want to maximize rewards and minimize penalties. Katz says we develop attitudes that help us meet this goal. We favor political parties that will advance our economic lot – if we are in business, we favor the party that will keep our taxes low, if unemployed we favor one that will increase social welfare benefits. We are more likely to change our attitudes if doing so allows us to fulfill our goals or avoid undesirable consequences.
- Knowledge – attitudes provide meaningful, structured environment. In life we seek some degree of order, clarity, and stability in our personal frame of reference. Attitudes help supply us with standards of evaluation. Via such attitudes as stereotypes, we can bring order and clarity to the complexities of human life.
- Value-expressive – Express basic values, reinforce self-image. EX: if you view yourself as a Catholic, you can reinforce that image by adopting Catholic beliefs and values. EX: We may have a self-image of ourselves as an enlightened conservative or a militant radical, and we therefore cultivate attitudes that we believe indicate such a core value.
- Ego-defensive – Some attitudes serve to protect us from acknowledging basic truths about ourselves or the harsh realities of life. They serve as defense mechanisms. EX: Those with feelings of inferiority may develop attitude of superiority.
Katz’s functionalist theory also offers an explanation as to why attitudes change. According to Katz, an attitude changes when it no longer serves its function and the individual feels blocked or frustrated. That is, according to Katz, attitude change is achieved not so much by changing a person’s information or perception about an object, but rather by changing the person’s underlying motivational and personality needs.
Example: As your social status increases, your attitudes toward your old car may change – you need something that better reflects your new status. (For that matter, your attitudes toward your old friends may change as well).
Negative Attitude and Objectives
A negative attitude is a frame of mind whereby a person is unhappy and fees that everything is unfair and is working against their overall happiness. A negative attitude is brought about by wrong beliefs, which are brought about by people or other influences. They indicate that a person’s life in meaningless and pointless and makes a person to feel very unhappy.
Limiting beliefs. The main cause of negative attitude is wrong beliefs about life or certain aspects of it.
You see the life through your beliefs and if your beliefs are negative, you will see your life as unhappy or downright pointless. So to change such attitude you need to change your beliefs. Read this article about NLP Techniques to change your beliefs (look at the technique no.5).
Negative family/friends. It seems that your friends and family affect how you feel and if your family is negative, they cause your bad attitude. That’s, however, not the case because only you can decide how you feel. I know this may seem unreal to those who hear it for the first time, but you and only you can decide how to react to anything that happens to you.
You don’t have to get upset when someone tries to get you upset. You can choose to remain calm or even be happy. If you allow others to decide how you should feel, you let them have control over you. That’s, of course, not a wise decision since people usually mind their own well-being first.
You always have choices. If your family is negative, for example, you can choose to live away from them or at least see them less often. If your friends are negative, you can simply refuse to be with them. This will definitely be beneficial because then nobody will reinforce your negative beliefs and thus cause your negative attitude. Remember, however, that you attracted your friends and because of that you have the power to attract better ones.
Negative environment. If you do not see the relation between your thoughts and the environment that you find yourself in, it’s no surprise that you assume that you have no power to change it. So when you think you are powerless over your environment and your environment is negative,that causes your negative attitude.
To change that you need to understand that your thinking led you to this environment and it wasn’t so simply by accident. So to change your negative environment you need to change your thinking which will be described further on in this article.
Unsatisfying circumstances/life. If you find yourself complaining about how unhappy you are, it’s exactly the reason you have such a negative attitude. It may be hard at first to understand and accept this but the quicker you do, the quicker you will be able to change your life for the better. Your complaining alone can keep you stuck in the circumstances that you find unsatisfying. So to change your life you should stop complaining and start working on improving your life.
The Consequences of Negative Attitude
Negative attitude shortens your life. The more often you become angry, upset or frustrated, the less days you will have left to live. I know this is extreme, but that’s how it is. You are shortening your life every time you let negative emotions overtake you.
Such attitude Creates unpleasant future. Your present actions determine your future. If you constantly moan and are dissatisfied with your circumstances, in the future you are sure to meet with more of the things you are unhappy about. The more you complain, the more things you will find to complain about.
It harms others. Your negative mood affects people around you. You should never make others feel bad because by doing so you are contributing not only to your own misery, but to the unhappiness of others also.
Such attitude produces negative effects. Every cause has an effect and so your negative attitude (cause) produces negative circumstances. Mostly people think it’s the other way round, but that’s not the case.
Your thinking causes your circumstances.
How to Change Negative Attitude
It is possible to change negative attitude, but it will not be easy. If you lived your life seeing only dark colours, you cannot turn this around in a day. However, by taking small and consistent steps you will gradually become a happier person.
The best way to change your mental state is by understanding the outcome of negativity. Carefully read the consequences of negative attitude and they will serve as reminders as soon as your mood goes down. You will think twice before getting upset, angry or depressed. And Yes, you cause your own mood and you can change it by simply focusing on good aspects of your life or imagining something positive. You are not at the mercy of different kinds of negative feelings that visit you when you least expect. You can control how you feel.
As soon as you spot a negative aspect of a situation or thing, try your best to find its positive aspect instead. For example, if you oversleep, you will think that you will be late for work. Instead try to find something positive that you gain from over-sleeping. You may realise that your efficiency will increase significantly because of the extra hours of sleep. So always look at the positive aspects of any situation that you find yourself in.
You should try to understand what causes your negative attitude. It might be that you live with a person who constantly ruins your mood or it may also be something to do with your past. Maybe something happened to you that made you deeply upset and you have not recovered from that incident since.
Try to understand that the incident is long gone, and you should not live in the shadow of it. Your past can only have influence on your present if you let it. Remember, your whole power is in the present moment.
Positive thinking is not enough. If you cannot find the cause of your negative attitude, you will only cover this attitude with positive words which will do no good to you. So try to find the cause of it and this will allow you to change your negative attitude.
Sometimes causes are internal rather than external. In fact, any external cause will lead you to the deeper, internal cause. For example, you might understand that you are negative because your family makes you negative. But when you dig deeper, you may realize that you feel unworthy as a person and you project this unworthiness onto your family and that makes you angry at them.
It’s true that the qualities you don’t like in other people are yours, so it’s not others that are at fault but you. So in this example you uncover that it’s your limiting belief of unworthiness that makes you negative. The next step will be to eliminate it and then your attitude will improve.
Types of Negative Attitude
There are certain types of people that indulge in negative states of mind. They are all different in some ways of thinking and acting, but the unifying feature of all of them is their constant negativity. Here are several types of such personalities:
The miserable type. Such people are grumpy from the start of the day. They meet with failures as soon as they wake up, which sets their day to be full of anger and hopelessness.
Usually this type of people keep to themselves and their presence makes others moody. People instantly feel their bad energy and try to stay away from them.
When you talk to the person of this type, s/he may insult you without even intending so. This is because their negativity is so aligned with who they are that they cannot recognize if they make others happy or sad.
The most interesting distinction of this type is that they are mainly unaware of their mental state. They don’t realize that they are negative.
Friendship with the miserable type of people can get you seriously depressed. This is because they have a very strong negative energy resonating from them which might draw you in. This is especially true if you are mentally weak or insecure.
Silent killer. Such people usually understand psychology quite well. They use this knowledge to gradually introduce hatred, anger and low self-esteem in others. They do this by making remarks about how others behave or look. They know that their remarks are destructive, but others may not realise that.
For example, your friend casually implies that you should not wear this type of suit because it emphasizes your waist. Do you see the real intention behind the advice?
Another example could be such situation. You have just met your dream partner and you are in love with each other. You meet your friend and start conversation about your new partner. The friend makes such remark: ‘Hmm, I wonder what made her choose you…’
This kind of advice or statement makes you question your appearance and abilities which leads to low self-esteem and self-doubt.
The reason why silent killers act this way is because they are very insecure beings. Because of that, they want to make others feel as insecure as them. Getting others in such negative state gives them reassurance, control and satisfaction.
Drama queen This is the most common type. Their emotions range from anger to self-pity, and every small incident can be turned into the storm. They seem to like the fact that they can change how others feel and be the centres of attention.
Such people are needy and insecure, they crave for constant reassurance. They strive for attention and approval. If they don’t receive what they want, they begin acting in childish ways. They may start crying, throwing things around or trying to get on others’ nerves.
That eventually backfires on them. Once that happens, drama queens become scared and surprised by the reaction they caused. This way drama queens try to make others feel guilty and cruel.
This kind of behaviour is the result of neediness and low self esteem.
Woe is me. Such people love to talk about their failures to everyone who would listen. They do that purely to get attention and sympathy of others.
Many people do not realise that such unfortunate stories can do a lot of harm. You should stay away from such people because they will draw you in to their world of unfairness and unhappiness.
This especially applies if you are mentally weak. By listening to the stories of the ‘woe is me’ type, you are likely to start visualising their troubles and invite them into your own life.
The paranoid type. They perceive others to be constantly trying to worsen their lives. If they go shopping, they think that shopkeepers are trying to rip them off; If someone wants to befriend them, they think that s/he wants something in return for the friendship.
Many people who live in foreign countries fall into this type. Once they encounter one unfortunate situation when they are treated unfairly because they are foreign, they start to see unfairness everywhere.
It may come to the stage where they would see that everyone is against them because of their skin colour or accent.
This negative attitude is mainly caused by self-doubt and poor self-image.
Trigger type. Such people seek ways to release their anger or self-pity. An example would be a person who gets into the conversation with someone who is sure to make him feel angry or hopeless. This way he destroys his mental balance and health.
Another example could be a person who tries to spark an argument. He starts accusing someone of doing something insignificant and continue with his/her accusations until another person finally breaks down.
By releasing their emotions they discharge their negativity and give some of their negative energy to the people they argue with.
These are the most common types of people with negative attitude. One person can have a mixture of several types, but then one type will be more prominent than others.
Building Positive Attitude
Reward and punishment build up attitude. Attitude can be changed, if we differentiate negative attitude from positive attitude. Positive attitude can bring positive change in life.
It is difficult to change attitudes but with some effort, it can be done. A positive attitude is a pre-requisite for change and development. If anybody has negative attitude towards `change’, this attitude will extend to anything representing change i.e. leaders, technology, meetings, or any process of change.
For any change (growth or development), positive attitude towards change is critical. Without the positive attitude towards change, development or growth is very difficult.
Positive attitude has the power to attract sudden good fortune from the world around us. We can observe that when under critical circumstances, if we adopt positive attitude and stay calm, we can easily overcome the problem, having no or less serious consequences
Steps towards building positive attitude
Attitudes of individuals towards life, family, ideas, political thinking, religion or anything can be changed.
Following are the various steps for bringing change in one’s attitude that bring change in the behaviours.
- Identify the object towards which change of attitude is desired.
- Introduce information about which individual agrees.
- Introduce the new information that contradicts the existing beliefs or attitudes.
- Identify the ways through which belief or practice conform to new information.
These four steps towards change in attitude can be easily understood by this example. Suppose you want to bring change in the attitude of your son towards education. So, first of all you have identified that you want to change the `attitude towards education’, secondly you will find out the reasons for certain attitude, thirdly you will introduce new information or ideas that contradict with the current information. This introduction of new information will develop dissonance which might help changing attitude.
Steps to turn positive attitude into action
Attitudes can be turned into positive actions by realizing certain behaviours such as
- Understand the power of attitude
- Take control of yourself and your life
- Be aware about yourself and keep updated
- Identify and frame your bad and good attitudes
- Find purpose of your behaviour and develop prudent passion actions
- Be pro-active and pre-active
- Discover the ways to motivate yourself (motivators)
- Build supportive relationships
- See change as an opportunity
- Leave a lasting legacy
Situational Annalysis of Attitude
Social approaches focus on our tendency to copy the beliefs and behaviours of others. Role models shown on television and in the neighbourhoods are examples. People change their residences, shift from old localities/mohallas to modern localities to learn new values and bring change in their attitudes.
An individual is capable of holding two contradictory beliefs or notions as long the person is not made aware about them. Once the person becomes aware, cognitive dissonance occurs. Dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling when we feel that what we believe may not be true. We can not live with such discomfort and we try to modify either our thinking or change our behaviour.
We can take the example of an environmentalist who is the advocate of keeping the environment clean, himself uses smoke emitting car. When he/she is made to realize, about his/her attitude, the conflict or dissonance emerges in his mind.
In the result of this dissonance his/her probable actions will be either 1. Deny the evidence, 2. Change the car, 3. Rationalize the action that he had to drive a large car for safety or for some other reasons.
In all the cases, he tries to reduce dissonance or discomfort, because nobody likes to remain with the discomfort. He/she will bring change in the attitude to get rid of dissonance. Dissonance can be a great tool towards change. This conflict or dissonance can be created by oneself or by an organization or a group.
The perceptual process allows us to experience the world around us. Take a moment to think of all the things you perceive on a daily basis. At any given moment, you might see familiar objects in your environment, feel the touch of objects and people against your skin, smell the aroma of a home-cooked meal and hear the sound of music playing in your next door neighbor’s apartment. All of these things help make up our conscious experience and allow us to interact with the people and objects around us.
In this overview of perception and the perceptual process, we will learn more about how we go from detecting stimuli in the environment to actually taking action based on that information.
What Is Perception?
Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival. Perception not only creates our experience of the world around us; it allows us to act within our environment.
Perception includes the five senses; touch, sight, taste smell and taste. It also includes what is known as proprioception, a set of senses involving the ability to detect changes in body positions and movements. It also involves the cognitive processes required to process information, such as recognizing the face of a friend or detecting a familiar scent.
The perceptual process is a sequence of steps that begins with the environment and leads to our perception of a stimulus and an action in response to the stimulus. This process is continual, but you do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the actual process that occurs when you perceive the many stimuli that surround you at any given moment.
The process of transforming the light that falls on your retinas into an actual visual image happens unconsciously and automatically. The subtle changes in pressure against your skin that allow you to feel object occur without a single thought.
In order to fully understand how the perception process works, we’ll start by breaking down each step. The Steps in the Perceptual Process:
- The Environmental Stimulus
- The Attended Stimulus
- The Image on the Retina
- Neural Processing
- Recognition Action
Biases, Prejudice and Blind Spots
As human resources professionals we are faced with a variety of employment related decisions on a daily basis. As no shock to each of us, we see biases and prejudices whether hidden or overt that affect these decisions STILL today. The situations I observe are amazing and get responses from others like “wow – that still happens today?” Yes – it does! You’ve seen it too! Can we afford to have these biases in our workplaces when we are in the midst of a war for talent? We need skills and need to continue to take the steps to minimize the influence of these biases in the workplace.
The biases and prejudices come in all forms –
– Whether it is a biased position against hiring an African American, Hispanic, or Muslim, I run into issues nearly each week with a hiring manager bluntly saying “we don’t want a minority in this position.”
Age (old and young)
-“I want someone young and spunky for this position. The older candidates won’t have the energy and they will retire before they even get started.” -“He looks too young and our customers won’t have respect and trust for someone that is younger than their socks.”
Gender (female and male)
-“She’s got a family. How could she possibly be committed to our company and juggle the needs of her children?”
Weight (heavy and thin)
-“She’s too heavy, would not be able to keep up, and would just be teased by everyone. Plus, don’t heavy people have hygiene problems?”
-“Our workforce isn’t ready for someone with homosexual preferences.”
-“I need to hire someone that is the opposite personality of me to balance my strengths and weaknesses.”
The list is endless…why do any of these issues make a difference in how someone will perform on the job? They shouldn’t, but for some reason these differences and others are influencing decisions when they should not. For years now, I have run across situations like these nearly every day. I put on my HR consultant hat and begin with the legal ramifications of these statements AND help the individual understand what they are missing out on by not looking at the individual’s skills and capabilities. Sometimes, I succeed but other times the company and society misses out! With the labor skills shortage, the organizations that “get it” are the ones that will succeed AND help society tear down these continued biases.
For some of you, I’m preaching to the choir. You probably have as many if not more stories that you could share.But what about the hidden biases that exist without our knowing of them? We have to battle these too. In a recent article titled “Watch Out for the Minefield of Hidden Bias” by Pamela Babcock, Ms.
Babcock sited an outstanding tool to help identified these hidden biases in ourselves and others. A Harvard University research team created a series of Implicitly Association Test (IAT) .As a result, they found a number of folks have hidden and unconscious biases that may unintentionally be affecting employment decisions. The highest levels of bias were relative to black, elderly, disabled, and overweight individuals. However, the studies showed if you are aware of your unconscious bias you can control how it influences decisions by ensuring your focus is on job related characteristics.
Here are some simple steps to help you be proactive in your organization in continuing to help us focus on individuals’ abilities, accepting them for who they are, and surviving the skills crisis all at once:
Check out the Implicitly Association Test. Try it yourself and encourage others to try it too. You’ll be surprised at the results and how it makes you think.
Learn to accept your biases and find ways to overcome them and focus on attributes of individuals that truly impact the situation – job related skills!
Identify the job related skills needed for a position. Interview, evaluate, and promote based on job related skills. Don’t make decisions for the person based on what you think they may do (i.e. he is 55 – why would he want this job? He’ll just quit and retire in 5 years; she is about to get married – she’ll just end up having kids and quitting her job; he is a minority and others won’t accept him)
Engage a group of individuals in employment decision making to try to overcome biases and prejudices. However, be sure you are not creating “group think” where you are always trying to hire or promote individuals like your group.
Continue to educate others on the value of accepting and embracing the differences we all bring to the table. It is what fosters creativity and makes an organization succeed!
Obviously prejudices and biases hit a very sore spot for many of us. If someone is accused of being prejudiced they become extremely defensive. That is not the goal of this article. There are many ways you can use this data but at least consider this…We are in a labor shortage. Every individual has unique skills and abilities and we need to find a way to hone in and focus on those skills and abilities in order to navigate through this shortage. If we let overt or even hidden biases stop us from hiring the best candidates for the job, our companies will ultimately be impacted. Additionally, we are throwing ourselves back decades in history by not educating ourselves, managers, employees, and community on accepting everyone for who they are no matter what their differences may be.
There are grizzled heroes and sleek assassins in movies who don’t have metaphorical blind spots. They do have literal ones, though. Because of the way the eye is constructed, every human being does.
For the most part, the human eye gives the brain an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world. There are limitations. Although many birds and insects can see ultraviolet, and some creatures can see infrared, humans are stuck looking at so-called ‘visible’ light only. This cuts down human’s view of the world, not letting them see the urine trails left behind by some mammals, and not letting them fully appreciate the colors of certain flowers, which have evolved to put on quite a show in ultraviolet while remaining plain in visible light. The human eye also can’t distinguish between polarized and nonpolarized light, while many cephalopods and some birds can.
Still, the eye sends back signals that let humans navigate through the world pretty successfully. Many assume that what they see is actually what’s out there. That’s not entirely true. Each human eye has a blind spot, and the brain sometimes has to fill in what is there by looking at the surrounding area.
Light gets into they eye by passing through the pupil. It hits the retina at the back of th eye. The retina is covered with light-sensing proteins. They relay what they sense to the optic nerve which carries the information back into the brain. The problem is, the optic nerve ends in the field of the retina itself.
This is a little like having to plug the power cable for a TV directly into the screen. It creates a dark spot. Most of the time, the other eye will see what’s happening in its partner’s blind, but if the blind spots overlap while looking at a certain object, or if the person is only looking through one eye, the brain just fills in the spot looking at the surrounding picture.
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