Attitude and Individual Behavior

Cite this article as:"Attitude and Individual Behavior," in The Business Professor, updated July 15, 2020, last accessed October 22, 2020,

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An attitude can best be understood as a state of mind. The state of mind can be brought on by any number of factors. Generally, an attitude affects a person’s disposition and behavior – whether positive or negative. An attitude may be directed at a specific object or it may be general in nature.

Cognitive dissonance theory explained the relationship between attitudes and behavior as inconsistency between the two is uncomfortable. Thus, individuals will try to reduce the discomfort and thus, the dissonance.

In the work environment, two attitudes have the greatest influence on behavior:

  • Job Satisfaction – Determinants of job satisfaction include: Mentally Challenging Work, Equitable Rewards, Supportive Working Conditions, Supportive Colleagues, Personality – Job Fit, and Heredity/Genes.
  • Organizational Commitment – Determinants of organizational commitment include:
    • A belief in and acceptance of the organization’s goals and values;
    • A willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization; and
    • A desire to remain with the organization

Internal Aspects of Attitude

Attitudes are subject to arousal through external stimuli. There are three categories of internal response to external stimuli that give rise to an attitude:

  • Affect (Emotional reactions),
  • Cognition (thoughts, perceptual reactions, judgments),
  • Action Tendencies.

Attitude can be characterized by:

  • Valence – The magnitude or degree of favorableness or unfavourableness toward the object/event
  • Multiplexity – The number of elements constituting the attitude.
  • Relation to needs – Attitudes vary in relation to the needs they serve.
  • Centrality – The importance of the attitude object to the individual.

Attitude Formation

Attitudes are learned or acquired as a result of numerous sources:

  • Personal experiences
  • Association
  • Family
  • Peer groups and society
  • Models and
  • Institutional factors.

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