ATTITUDE FORMATION

Formation of Attitude in Organisational behaviour

The formation of Attitudes are learned. Individuals acquire attitudes from several sources but the point to be stressed is that the attitudes are acquired but not in herited. Our responses to people and issues evolve over time. Two major influences on attitudes are direct experience and social learning.

  1. Direct Experience: Attitudes can develop from a personally rewarding or punishing experience with an object. Direct experience with an object or person is a powerful influence on attitudes. Research has shown that attitudes that are derived from direct experience are stronger, are held more confidently and are more resistant to change than are attitudes formed through indirect experience. One reason that attitudes derived from direct experience are so powerful is because of their availability. This means that the attitudes are easily accessed and are active in our cognitive processes. When attitudes are available, we can call them quickly into consciousness. Attitudes that are not learned from direct experience are not as available, and therefore we do not recall them easily.
    1. Classical Conditioning: One of the basic processes underlying attitude formation can be explained on the basis of learning principles. People develop associations between various objects and the emotional reactions that accompany them.
    2. Operant Conditioning: Attitudes that are reinforced, either verbally or non verbally, tends to be maintained. Conversely, a person who states an attitude that elicits ridicule from others may modify or abandon the attitude.
    3. Vicarious Learning: In which a person learns something through the observance of others can also account for attitude development particularly when the individual has no direct experience with the object about which the attitude is held. It is through vicarious learning processes that children pick up the prejudices of their parents.
  2. Social Learning: In social learning, the family, peer groups and culture shape an individual's attitudes in an indirect manner. Substantial social learning occurs through modelling, in which individuals acquire attitudes by merely observing others. For an individual to learn from observing a model, four processes must take place:
    1. The learner must focus attention on the model.
    2. The learner must retain what was observed from the model.
    3. Behavioural reproduction must occur; that is, the learner must practise the behaviour.
    4. The learner must be motivated to learn from the model.

Social learning can take place through the following ways:

  1. The Family: A person may learn attitudes through imitation of parents. If parents have a positive attitude towards an object and the child admires his parents, he is likely to adopt a similar attitude, even without being told about the object, and even without having direct experience. Children also learn to adopt certain attitudes by the reinforcement they are given by their parents when they display behaviours that reflect an appropriate attitude.
  2. Peer Groups: Peer pressure moulds attitudes through group acceptance of individuals who express popular attitudes and through sanctions, such as exclusion from the group, placed on individuals who espouse (promote) unpopular attitudes.
  3. Modelling: Substantial social learning occurs through modelling, in which individuals acquire attitudes by merely observing others. The observer overhears other individuals expressing an opinion or watches them engaging in a behaviour that reflects an attitude, and the observer adopts this attitude.

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Principles of Management and Organisational Behaviour Topics