It is a learned/acquired predisposition or state of mind to behave/react to a given object (living or non-living thing we encounter in our daily lives).
An attitude is a predisposition to experience, to be motivated by, and to act toward, a class of objects in a predictable manner (Smith, Bruner, & White,).
Attitudes are formed from our experiences or observation and serve to guide our future behaviour.
All attitudes positive or negative vary in intensity. For example one may very strongly likes a certain book but casually dislikes a certain type of music. Social psychologists examine attitude in terms of three components:
cognitive, affective and behavioral.
There is always an object of the attitude, the item towards which the attitude is directed.
To understand this, let us take example of the attitude of a person towards a child with special needs ‘Reema’ to understand the three components of attitude.
1) Cognitive: It refers to that part of attitude which is related in general know how of a person. This is the mental component. Example: Reema is happy, loving and full of positive energy.
2) Affective: This is the emotional component which affects another person Example: I feel good when I am around Reema. and this shows an emotional relationship
3) Behavioural: This is the action component; more specifically, it consists of I the predisposition to act in a certain way toward the object.
The behavioural component reflects the intentions of a person in short run or in long run. Example: I try to spend time with Reema whenever I get an opportunity.