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David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen


Attitudes have long been a focus of study by social scientists. In the first edition of the Handbook of social psychology in 1935, Gordon Allport referred to attitudes as an indispensable concept for social psychology. Today, attitudes have become an essential concept for the social sciences. Attitudes, defined as an evaluative response to an object or thing, are critical to the study of →  Persuasion ; person →  Perception ; reactions to politicians, racism, and stereotyping (→  stereotypes ); responses to the media; and so on. This entry will provide an overview of the nature of attitudes and how to measure them, summarize the tripartite model of attitudes, and review recent research on explicit and implicit attitudes. In everyday talk in English, when someone is said “to have an attitude,” it generally means the person takes a negative or critical view of the world. However, for social scientists, the standard definition of an attitude is simply that it is a hypothetical construct involving the evaluation of some object . First, attitudes are hypothetical constructs because they cannot be directly observed. Rather, attitudes are measured indirectly through a variety of different measures. Second, attitudes involve evaluations of how positively or negatively a person judges something. This evaluation can stem from any number of sources including a person's beliefs, behavior, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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