Attitudes Social Psychology's Most Indispensable Concept

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Attitudes Social Psychology's Most Indispensable Concept

Augoustinos & Walker (1995) claim the attitudes area has been the most

researched and heavily invested topic in social psychology. The

1960/70's saw an era of pessimism regarding the attitude-behaviour

association. However, by the 80's there was resurgence due to

cognitive psychology's impact (Hogg and Vaughan 2002). Attitudes

influence perceptions of others and also how we perceive ourselves.

Augoustinos & Walker (1995:12) believe attitudes are 'real and

tangible, which influence the way that attitude owner behaves'. They

are tangible in the sense that attitudes are displayed through

specific human behaviours and so can be observed e.g. a lazy attitude

shown though someone sleeping a lot. But this does not mean that

'attitude' in itself exists as the question infers, it is a

concept/theoretical construct. If G.Allport is correct then, attitudes

are the causal stimuli that determine particular behaviour(s). Alike

many social psychological concepts there is a definition problem.

There are blurred boundaries between scientific and everyday meanings

of 'attitude'. Reber and Reber (2001:63) vaguely claim 'an attitude is

some internal affective orientation that explains the actions of a

person - an intended action'. Hogg and Vaughan (2002) believe it has

four components: cognitive (conscious opinion), affective (emotional

feeling), evaluative (positive/negative) and behavioural (character

for action). It depends on the theoretical approach taken when

considering which factor is more important e.g. behaviourists

favouring behavioural - based upon observed behaviour whilst


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...erbal and Overt Behavioural Responses to Attitude Objects. Journal of

Social Issues. 25: 41-78.

Sources Utilised


Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding Attitudes and

Predicting Behaviour. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Augoustinos, M. & Walker, I. (1995). Social Cognition: An Integrated

Introduction. London: Sage.

Eiser, R.J. (1980) Cognitive Social Psychology: A Guidebook To Theory

and Research. London: McGraw-Hill Ltd.

Hogg, M. T. & Vaughan, G. M. (2002) Social Psychology (3rd Edition).

Chapters 5 & 6. London: Prentice Hall.

Ibáňez, T. & Ãňiguez, L. (1997) Critical Social Psychology. London:


Reber, A.S. & Reber, E. (2001). The Penguin Dictionary Of Psychology.

London: Penguin.

Tesser, A. (1995) Advanced Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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