In the language of the layman, we may describe an attitude as the way we feel about something. This may be feeling towards college, football team, religion, society, parents the boss or the organization. The object may be anything – people, things, ideas, policies and so on. The remarkable feature of attitude is that it varies in direction favorable or unfavorable, and intensity – how strong they are held.
Managers in an organization need to know and understand employees’ attitudes in order to manage effectively. Attitudes influence their performance in organization.
In business organizations employees have attitudes related to the world environment, security or uncertainly prestige of the product or department and plant location etc.
Values represent our beliefs about an ideal conduct, be it positive or negative of any object or situation.
Attitudes are different for values. Values are ideals – positive or negative, not tied to any specific object or situation. Values represent our beliefs about ideal conduct. Whereas attitudes are narrower, they are our feelings, thoughts and behavioral tendencies towards a specific object or situation Attitudes are evaluative statements either favorable or unfavorable concerning objects peoples or events.
Attitudes are our feelings, thoughts and behavioral tendencies towards a specific object or situation. It is the way we feel about something.
Nature of Attitudes:
Attitudes can be characterized by their valance, mutliplexity, centrality, and relation to needs.
Valance: It refers to the magnitude or degree of favorableness or un-favorableness towards the object/event. If a person is relatively indifferent towards an object then his attitude has low valance. On the contrary, if a person is extremely favorable or unfavorable towards an object, then his attitude will have a high valence.
Multiplexity: It refers to the number of elements constituting the attitude. For example, an employee may feel loyal to the organization, but another may feel respectful and dependent towards the organization apart from feeling loyal. Similarly, a student may show interest towards his studies, but another may add hard work, sincerity and seriousness to his interest in studies.
Centrality: One salient characteristics of attitude refers to the importance of attitude object to the individual. The centrally indicates the importance of the object. The attitudes which have high centrality for an individual will be less susceptible to change.
Relation to Needs: Attitudes can also vary in relation to the needs they serve. For example, attitudes of an individual towards pictures may serve only the entertainment needs. On the other hand, attitudes of an individual onwards task may serve needs for security, achievement, recognition and satisfaction.
Formation of Attitudes:
Attitudes are formed based upon the person’s personal experiences family associations, groups and society.
Moreover the attitudes are a mixture of the above determinants:
Experiences: The experience people gain plays an important role in the formation of attitudes. Through job experiences, individuals form attitudes. They develop attitudes about factors such as salary, performance reviews, job design, work group affiliation and supervision. Before a person goes for work in a particular organization, he holds many attitudes about the job which he is expected to do. Previous work experience can account for the individual differences in attitudes such as loyalty commitments and performance.
Family: Individuals develop certain attitudes from their family members – parents, brothers, sisters etc. the family characteristics influence the individual’s early attitude patterns. When the child’s attitudes are studied as a result of the influence of his family, peers and teachers, it is found that there is high correlation between the attitudes of parents and children. This correlation is the lowest when the attitude of the children and their teachers is under consideration.
Association: The group or association to which people belong influences them greatly. The geographic region, religion, educational back ground, race, caste, sex, age, income group – all have their say on our attitudes. The influence of groups on the attitudes of the individual is inversely proportional to the distance of the group form the individual.
Groups (peer group): During adolescence people increasingly rely on their peer groups for approval. We often seek others who share attitudes similar to our own, or else we change our attitudes to match the attitudes of those in the group whose approval is important us.
Society: social class and the religious set up also play a vital role in forming attitudes of an individual. The culture, language and the structure of the society also have their say. At an early age an individual is taught that certain attitudes are acceptable and certain others are not acceptable in the society. For example, the attitudes of the people of the erstwhile Soviet Union towards communism were quite different form those of the people of the western world. In other words, what seems appropriate in an individual culture and society may be totally unacceptable in another culture.
Personality Factors: Personality differences between individuals appear to be very important in formation of attitudes. This particular area has been the subject matter of great interest and it carries a great deal of weight in an organization.