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Function & Characteristics of Attitude Organisational Behaviour

Attitude- Function, Characteristics & Properties

Functions of Attitude

Attitude determines one’s behaviour, one’s personality and one’s position in the society. While favourable attitude towards others make him pleasant, sociable and acceptable, un favourable attitudes make many enemies and develop hostile feelings and hatred in his mind.

Attitudes function as a source of motivation which helps in the adjustment to the environment. According to Katz (1960), four different personality functions are served by the maintenance and modifications of social attitudes. They are adjustment, value expression, knowledge and ego defence.

  1. Adjustment Function:

    The holding of a particular attitude leads to reward or the avoidance of punishment. It is the utilitarian or instrumental function of attitude which motivates the person to adjust with the environment to gain social approval and support of family, friends and neighbours. In case of certain social issues like marriage, death, democracy, religion, sacrifice and helping others, he holds opinions similar to his parents and relations and friends. Further favourable attitudes are developed towards those stimuli which satisfy one’s needs and unfavourable attitudes towards those which stand on the fulfilment of his needs and motives.

  2. Value Expression Function:

    On the basis of identification with parents and other relatives the child develops certain personal values and self concepts. These values are integrated in the form of different attitudes. Attitudes help in expressing these values. The individual gets satisfaction by expression of attitudes appropriate to his personal values. Religious, ideological and patriotic beliefs and values normally are based on this function. People get self satisfaction by engaging themselves in social work, care for the aged persons, by helping at the time of flood and famines, by taking care of the orphans or by raising their voice against corruption and social injustice.

  3. Knowledge Function:

    According to Mann this function of attitude is based on the need to understand, make sense and give adequate structure to the universe. Attitudes have a cognitive function in the sense that they help in understanding things properly for the sake of quick adjustment. Attitudes which prove inadequate dealing with new and changing situations are discarded because, otherwise, they lead to contradictions and inconsistency. The need for cognitive consistency, meaning and clarity is fulfilled by the knowledge function of attitude.

  4. Ego Defensive Function:

    The ego defensive function of attitude provides protection against the knowledge and acceptance of basic unpleasant truths about disease, death, weakness, insecurity, frustration, unemployment, illness and various other harsh realities of life.

By rationalizing and distorting attitudes on the above harsh realities of life the ego tries to defend itself and lead a happy life by avoiding unpleasantness arising out of these unpleasant truths. All these facts lead to believe the tremendous significance of the functions of attitude in human life.

Characteristics and Properties of Attitudes

  1. Attitudes always imply a subject-object relationship.

    They are associated with ideas, ways and external objects. It is always related to definite stimulus situations.

This stimulus situation may be towards:

  • Objects such as home, automobile, TV, kitchen.
  • Persons like own self, father, mother, in laws, brother and sister etc.
  • Institutions like school, college, church, club
  • Concepts, values, norms and symbols like flag, truth, democracy, justice, religion, God, philosophy etc. These subject object relationship are neither innate nor biologically determined but acquired from the environment. An individual’s attitude, therefore, organises his behaviour with reference to a particular object.
  1. Attitudes in relation to objects, persons and values may or may not have motivational appeal initially.

    Gradually individuals through social interaction develop either positive or negative attitude which depend upon their experience and need.

In other words, the individual first comes in contact with certain objects, develops a particular likeness or dislikeness depending upon the fulfilment of his need or motive or due to any other factors.

The organism first perceives and then develops an attitude. Thus, the perceptual stage is most important particularly where there is no motive. Many social attitudes are found to develop through verbal judgements of adults even though there may not be any motive.

  1. Attitudes give a direction to one’s behaviour and actions.

    Because of a particular positive attitude the organism either approaches it or because of a negative attitude avoids it. A positive attitude will reinforce the behaviour and help in its continuance. A negative attitude conversely will make the response weak and finally lead to avoidance behaviour.

  2. Attitudes are coloured with motivational and evaluative characteristics.

    A favourable attitude is considered as having some positive values while a negative attitude is looked upon as having unpalatable and negative implications. The directive properties or attitude make our goal purposive and direct our behaviour.

  3. Attitudes are not innate but learned, acquired and conditioned.

    They grow in the society in the minds of men through various modes of training. As a result of our first hand and second hand experience with objects, ideas, situations and through the process of social interaction and socializations attitudes grow.

Direct or first-hand experience is perhaps the fundamental factor in the formation and growth of attitudes. But often the attitude of our parents, relations, friends, teachers, peers and of course the loved ones, and attitude of the society helps in the development of individuals’attitudes in particular direction. Thus, the attitude develops both through direct and indirect sources.

  1. Attitude is never neutral.

    It can be either positive or negative, favourable or unfavourable, palatable or unpalatable. Thus, it is always coloured with some sort of emotion. A neutral view is said to be the opinion and not attitude where there is no emotional tone.

  2. Attitudes have affective properties of varying degrees.

    They are. linked with feelings and emotions like pleasant, unpleasant, fear, love. An attitude which works as a tendency for future activity is marked by emotionality. The reaction is either mild or violent or normal. The emotional feeling tone in attitude may be due to motivational as pointed out earlier.

The individual is forced to develop either a favourable or an unfavourable attitude because of the pressure of social environment or due to the nature of reaction of one individual with another individual which is always attached with some feeling tone.

  1. Attitudes are more or less enduring organisations or enduring state of readiness.

    Thus, attitudes once formed and relatively stable, consistent and permanent can be normally predicted. The cognitive component developing during the perceptual stage makes attitude relatively permanent. If you have liked a particular type of music say light music, you will tend to like it atleast for quite a long period.

But that does not mean that attitudes are absolute and fixed stages of readiness or are rigid, and hence not liable to change. The very fact that attitudes are learned behaviour indicates that they can be changed through subsequent learning or experience. It can be strengthened or weakened, can be changed from palatable to unpalatable or from favourable to unfavourable and vice versa.

  1. From the above facts, it follows that attitudes can be changed depending upon the circumstances, experiences and how of information through various processes of communication or through direct interaction. A number of studies on attitude change support the above fact.
  2. Attitude is called the evaluative orientation towards the social world which is mostly expressed verbally and, therefore, it can be measured. In attitude the intensity of emotion is measured through a five point or six point scale like very favourable, favourable, moderately favourable, neither favourable nor unfavourable, unfavourable and extremely unfavourable.

You can express your attitude towards the extremists creating problems in Kashmir or Assam through the above scale, by saying very much against them, moderately against them or strongly in favour of them etc.

  1. Attitudes have cognitive, affective and behavioural components.
  2. Attitudes range in the number and variety of stimuli to which they are referred. The strength and range of an attitude depends upon the strength of the experience and learning of the organism.

If the organism has learned that people of certain caste are inferior, he will have a negative attitude towards such castes. Similarly, if somebody is taught from the childhood that girls are mentally inferior than boys he will develop similar attitude towards girls in general unless otherwise happens.

  1. Except a few, most of the attitudes are clustered or related to each other. If you have unfavourable attitude towards male sex, any other object, idea, value or incident related to men folk in general will also be looked upon in a similar manner.

Thus, attitudes mostly become organised and structured when connected highly with other attitudes. Only a very few attitudes can be thought of existing in isolation. Strong attitudes form the centre of a cluster of attitudes. Around these attitudes which remain in the centre other related attitudes are organised.

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