Six Grand Theories- Attitude

1.) Psychoanalysis- The psychoanalysis theory believes that our behaviors and attitudes are due to inner forces, thoughts, feelings, memories and conflicts and that what we do is essentially beyond our awareness and control. We have both our conscious and unconscious thoughts that shape our attitudes into what they are. For example-  we take into consideration our instincts(id), our reality(ego) and our morality(superego) and that these three combined stem our attitudes into what they are and how we choose to feel and look at certain things and situations. Our attitude is based off of the situations life presents us and how our inner self chooses to handle what is going on. How ones self goes through different stages throughout life and if we choose to let our “devil” take over us or our “angel”. We will then create either positive or negative attitudes based on what we do and how our inner selves react to these up comings.

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2.) Behaviorism-  This theory believes that our attitudes comes from your experiences and how you are treated for doing a certain thing. They believe this because they discovered that operant and classical conditioning (where you get a stimuli either before or after an event) creates certain behaviors and attitudes. For example- if you ask a dog to sit and then always reward him with a treat after he does it, he will create a positive attitude toward sitting and his owner. Your attitude would be shaped around the actions you partake in, due to certain stimuli presented to you. Attitudes continue to grow as we continue to repeat these situations and receive either negative or positive reinforcements. Social cognitive learning has also proved that this theory affects ones attitude. When we see someone else acting a certain way and either receiving negative or positive reinforcements we want to either do the same as them or the opposite, and therefor creating an attitude towards what is going on.

  • 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”. This website gave a good definition of how the behavioral theory influences attitude. Click on the link to read more!

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3.) Cognitivism- The cognitive theory believes that our mental processes is what shapes an attitude. This theory focuses on how people think, know and understand the world. If you are a cognitive psychologist you then believe that ones attitude is stemmed off of the culture around you and how you develop mentally and internally about the world you are in. How we choose to internally think about the happenings around us will most definitely shape ones behavior. If we take in and grow off of and learn thanks to the world around us we will start to develop certain attitudes towards things. For example- our attitudes as kids will be much different as what our attitudes will be as adults. This is due to the world around us and our internal thoughts. As children we are not as mentally developed as an adult is, and as we become more exposed to the culture around us, we will begin to develop mentally more and more and then therefor grow new attitudes and mature them.

Cognitive component: this involves a person’s belief / knowledge about an attitude object. For example: “I believe spiders are dangerous”.  This website gave a good definition of how the cognitive theory influences attitude. Click on the link to read more!

4.) Ecological Theory- This theory believes that attitude and behavior is based off of and formed due to the structure society has formed around the world we are in. There is a number of over lapping ecosystems that affect all of us, therefor affecting our behaviors. There are essentially 3 major systems, that together, affect human development, behavior and attitude. The first system is the microsystem- this system immediately affects attitude. It could be things such as your family or friends (which we have learnt to be major influences on ones attitude and shaping and/or forming it). The next system is the exosystem. The exosystem includes all external networks such as ones community and school- which will also majorly influence attitudes. The last system is the macrosystem. This system influences all of the other systems  and includes things such as ones culture and political beliefs. In conclusion, the ecological theory covers everything in life from your friendships to your school to your religious beliefs, and that all things covered in your specific system will shape and form the attitudes you have.

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5.) Humanism- The humanistic theory explains that ones attitude, behavior and way of life all comes back to you, and depends on you. It explains that humans have the tendency and ability to make there own decisions and choices in life, thus meaning that we have complete control over our own attitudes and that we can change, form and create them ourselves. For example- if we believe that someone does not like us and really despises us we will start to develop and form an attitude about ourselves that no one enjoys us and become negative, all because we allowed ourselves to create this.

Check out this site to read a bit more about humanism related to attitude.

6.) Evolutionary- The evolutionary theory believes that behavior is influenced by biology, thus meaning that our attitudes are formed by biology. It looks at what psychological traits evolve us into who we are as human beings and why we are the way we are. Certain biological traits help determine and influence our behaviors which then leads in it also influencing and determining our attitudes. Everyone will have different attitudes on certain things because everyone was born with there own unique and different biological traits. An example of this would be sports- if someone who was born with athletic, strong and a fit body then they will most likely create a positive attitude towards sports, opposed to someone who was not born with the athletic gene and instead frail, creating then a negative attitude towards sports.

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Watch this video to learn more about attitude and how it relates to some of these theories!


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