It is not an easy task to give a set universally accepted definition of the term “attitude”. Arthur S. Reber, author of Dictionary of Psychology, makes it clear saying that “Psychology regularly gets itself into stormy definitional waters, no more so than when a term like this one is used to denote a concept of fundamental importance in human behavior and when the domain of reference turns out to be much more complex than the original neologists ever imagined.
Originally the term derived from the Latin “aptitudo” meaning fitness. Hence, an attitude rendered one fit to engage in the performance of some task.” 1
There are 5 different definitions of the term “attitude” given in Dictionary of Psychology by Arthur S. Reber. I will quote a definition offered by traditional personality and social psychology as this definition seems to be closest to our traditional non-scientific understanding of the term “attitude”. Originally in traditional personality and social psychology an attitude was viewed as some internal affective orientation that would explain the actions of the person… Contemporary usage generally entails several components, namely cognitive (consciously held belief or opinion); affective (emotional tone and feeling); evaluative (positive or negative) and conative (disposition for action). There is considerable dispute as to which of these components should be regarded as more or less important… Exactly how the term is used in modern psychological literature will thus depend largely on the theoretical tilt on the writer.” 2
In my study I will refer to the term attitude as a combination of all these components which, in my opinion, are equally important. In other words, I will interpret “internal affective orientation” as a way that a person approaches, treats and reacts to a certain object or phenomenon.
- Arthur S. Reber, “ Dictionary of Psychology,” p.65
- Ibid p. 65