Attitudes are evaluative statements—- either favorable or unfavorable â€“concerning objects, people, or events. Attitudes are not the same as values, but the two interrelated. You can see this by looking at the three components of an attitude: cognition, affect, and behavior.
The belief that discrimination is wrong is a value statement. Such an opinion is the cognitive component of an attitude. It sets the stage for the more critical part of an attitudeâ€”its affective component. Affect is the emotional or feeling segment of an attitude and is reflected in the statement â€œI donâ€™t like Jon because he discriminates against minorities.â€? Finally, and weâ€™ll discuss this issue at considerable length later in this section, affect can lead to behavioral outcomes. The behavioral component of an attitude refers to an intention to behave in a certain way toward someone or something. So to continue our example, I might choose to avoid Jon because of my feeling about him.
Viewing attitudes as made up of three componentsâ€”cognition, affect, and behaviorâ€”is helpful in understanding their complexity and the potential relationship between attitudes and behavior. But for clarityâ€™s sake, keep in mind that the term attitude as it is generally used essentially refers to the affect part of the three components.
Also keep in mind that, in contrast to values, your attitudes are less stable. Advertising messages, for example, attempt to alter your attitudes toward a certain product or service: If the people at XYZ Motor Co. can get you to hold a favorable feeling toward their cars, that attitude may lead to a desirable behavior for them purchase of a XYZ product.
In organizations, attitudes are important because they affect job behavior. If workers believe, for example, that supervisors, auditors, bosses, and time-and-motion engineers are all in conspiracy to make employees work harder for the same or less money, then it makes sense to try to understand how these attitudes were formed, their relationship to actual job behavior, and how they might be changed.