An attitude is

  • A feeling
  • An evaluation , placed on an object, situation, or person

To express an attitude towards something, is to apply some valued judgement to it.
Good or bad: Moral or immoral: Safe or dangerous


  • What attitudes are
  • How they develop
  • How they function
  • And their purpose

The causes of attitudes


  • May stem from deep repressed ideas or experiences of which the person is unaware
  • May be so strong that reason and logic are totally subordinated to them.


  • Complex mix of ideas, rationalisations, and logic
  • Most attitudes involve beliefs (but that does not mean that all beliefs are attitudes)
  • Generally organised into systematic whole and expressed as a value system. The more a belief is integrated into a value system (i.e. the more ties a given belief has to other beliefs) the more difficult the attitude, of which that belief is a part, will be to change, and the more intense that attitude will be.


Governed by the strength of its emotional content.

To change attitudes; where they are expressions of belief; attempts to bring about change are threatening, but where attitude change strengthens belief, change is easily brought about.

All attitudes are highly resistant to change. This is also a good thing, because personality is basically stable and the beliefs, which are a part of attitudes, provide a superstructure for personality which cannot be shaken easily. This consistency within ourselves, is an expression of the fact that we have an identity and enables us to predict how we will react in most situations

The function of attitudes

1. Attitudes are expressions of personal values. A person committed to a set of values enjoys a sense of self expression whenever he expresses attitudes consistent with his belief.
2. Attitudes are adjustments to life’s demands

Absorbs managers values and standards
Identifies with managers values and attitudes
Behaviour change – motivate by reward and punishment

Motivation that is based on attitudes, which are an expression of a subordinates values, is the ideal. However, do not look down upon change at the behaviour level
3. Attitudes serve as ego defence reactions
4. Attitudes provide a ready made frame of reference or standard for reacting to the world we live in.

To change attitudes

  1. Create some form of dissatisfaction with the attitude that you want to change. If this is through reward and punishment, be sure that there is an obvious alternative available. If done through helping him to gain insight, be careful not to increase the defensiveness.
  2. Appeal to his need for consistency with his beliefs and self image
  3. Be an example of the positive and constructive attitudes you want to communicate. I.e. be the kind if person, with whom others choose to identify.


Law of effect: Principle of reinforcement: Carrot & Stick: Fear motivation

Motivation is an “exchange” that must be fair and equitable. Negative reinforcement (punishment) depends on the willingness of the employee to accept it. Positive reinforcement is the foundation for motivation, in which employer and employee enter into an “exchange agreement”, which must be fair and mutually profitable. (Partly material and partly psychological). Lack of reward is a form of punishment.

Attitude motivation – payment in currency of psychological satisfaction.
Exchange for mutual benefit has a definite ring of fairness about it, which both sides need, for a sense of self respect and dignity

Practical guide for motivation

  1. Peak production is best sustained when the employee is emotionally involved
  2. Don’t use manipulative techniques which can be viewed by employees easily as attempts to get something for nothing
  3. Peak motivation is most likely in an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect, and awareness that common objectives are being reached.
  4. Communicate the idea that status differences refer only to role and function and that they do not reflect a difference in the worth of individuals.
  5. Motivation is affected by emotional immaturity and deeply rooted habits and attitudes
  6. Motivation in some direction takes place continually; when two employees of equal ability but unequal productivity are given identical raises (or psychological rewards), both are being motivated to perform at the lowest acceptable level
  7. The less the possibility for the intrinsic job satisfaction, the more important to pace employees by some definite schedule of production. Where remuneration is tied directly to productivity on routine jobs, the amount of production does not vary with minor fluctuations in moral and worker satisfaction
  8. Financial rewards, as incentives, fail when they are regarded as a substitute for a good employer/employee relations
  9. Avoid compensation (fringe benefits) that cannot be related by the employee to his own efforts
  10. Compensation which immediately follows desirable behaviour, reinforces that behaviour; but much of its motivational force is lost, if the compensation is delayed for weeks or months
  11. As a person changes over a period of years, what motivates him also changes. Everybody is motivated by different things and by a number of things.

To maintain an attitude change, it is necessary to provide feedback of success for the person concerned.

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