(Sample Material) UPSC IAS Mains GS Online Coaching : Paper 4 - "Attitude"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains GS Online Coaching Programme

Subject: General Studies (Paper 4 - Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)

Topic: Attitude


Whenever we interact with others it seems that we are involved in finding out what each other thinks, in telling each other our opinions and beliefs or in trying to change someone else’s. If we know someone’s attitude about something, we feel we are in a better position to predict and explain what they will do, feel or think in a given situation. An attitude is “a relatively enduring organization of beliefs, feelings, and behavioral tendencies towards socially significant objects, groups, events or symbols.” An attitude is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object). Prominent psychologist Gordon All port once described attitudes lithe most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology. Attitude can be formed from a person’s past and present. Attitude influences the behavior of the individuals. Attitude is a usual way of doing things. Successes and failures in life depend upon the attitude of the individuals. If attitudes are positive, then human relations will be positive. And positive human relations are necessary for a successful life.

Attitude is a disposition to approach an idea, event, person, or an object. It is a tendency to act in one was or the other toward an ‘attitude object’ or something CT (i.e. idea, event, person, object, food, Steps of colour. and furniture. virtually everything). It is easy to see therefore that the study of attitudes is central to the study of people in social situations. How you see others stereotyping, prejudices, attraction, voting, which subjects you study, your hobbies and interests, which TV programmes you watch, religious views, political views, who your friends are, whether you attribute blame/ responsibility to someone, how you make decisions in a group-all of these are areas of social psychology and all of them reflect attitudes that you hold.

Structure of Attitudes

Attitudes structure can be described in terms of three components.

  •  Affective component: this involves a person’s feelings/ emotions about the attitude object. For example: “I am scared of spiders”.

  •  Behavioral (or conative) component: the way the attitude we have influences how we act or behave. For example: “I will avoid spiders and scream if I see one”.

  • Cognitive component: this involves a person’s belief/ knowledge about an attitude object. For example: “I believe spiders are dangerous”.

This model is known as the ABC model of attitudes. The three components are usually linked. However, there is evidence that the cognitive and affective components of behavior do not always match with behavior. This is shown in a study by La Pierre.

According to Pennington the components are structured in such a ay that the beliefs and values (cognitive and affective I combine to give the attitude which is a negative or positive evaluation of something about which we hold certain beliefs. This then gives rise to an intention to behave in a certain way resulting, in appropriate circumstances, in behaviour. For example, a certain MP might believe that smoking cannabis is okay, she might value open and frank discussion about smoking cannabis and this leads (through intention) to her behaving in a way that makes this known. Notice that two people can share the same belief or can share the same value but nevertheless have different attitudes. You and I might both believe that meat is something edible but we might evaluate the eating of meat differently and so one of us might be vegetarian whilst the other isn’t. Similarly two people might value an attitude object in the same way but because they have different beliefs about it, their attitudes are different. We might both value animals but one of us might think eating them causes more to be bred and therefore means we are giving more animals a life than if we didn’t eat meat, so it’s okay to eat them. The other person, however, might think the breading them for eating is exploitative, therefore immoral so it’s not okay to eat them. assumption behind the structural approach is that if we can how values and beliefs combine in relation to very specific attitude objects, we should be able both to predict and explain someone’s intentional behaviour. This approach may tell us what an attitude is but it does not tell us why you have one attitude and I have another. It doesn’t say why people hold attitudes they do, what function having the attitude serves for the person.

Types of Attitudes

Attitude is something that lies between emotions and thought processing. Attitude may be positive or negative. If someone has good feelings about something e.g. towards his/her work, or people, men it is positive attitude otherwise it would be negative.

Positive attitude: The predisposition that results in desirable outcomes for individuals and organizations can be described as positive attitude. Positive attitudes are rewarded. It mean s the individual is encouraged to do the same thing in future.

Negative attitude: The tendency of a person that results in an undesirable outcome for individuals and organizations can be described as negative attitude. Negative attitudes are punish ed in order to discourage the same action in future.

Change in Attitudes

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.

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]

Humans are constantly thinking, feeling or doing something or the other. These three main components are what humans are occupied with all the time and that is what forms their attitudes. Being humans, we tend to have different attitudes that mayor may not change with time. An Attitudes is nothing but a point of view one holds for other people, situations, event, object places, phenomena, or beings. It is essentially like an evaluate statement that is either positive or negative depending on the degree of like or dislike for the matter in question. An attitude reflects how one thinks, feels and behaves in a given situation. There are different types of attitudes that are subject to change during the course of life.

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