Affective Component of Attitude: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:05 Affective Component of…
  • 0:54 Example
  • 2:20 Interplay of Attitude…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Noel

Jennie teaches psychology and has a master's degree in social work.

In this lesson, we will learn what the term 'attitude' means and explore the affective component of attitude by observing the feelings of two people who do not eat meat.

Affective Component of Attitude

Attitude is defined as a person's overall approach regarding events, ideas, people or other items, especially when this approach endures over time. A person's attitude is the result of an evaluation he or she has made about the attitude object.

Attitude is made up of three components: affective, feelings and emotions about the attitude object; behavioral, the behavior one exhibits when faced with the object; and cognitive, the thoughts and beliefs one has about the object.

In this lesson, we will explore the affective component more closely. The component refers to the emotions, such as anxiety, sorrow, or excitement, that the person has regarding the object. Let's use an example to understand it better.


Kim, a college student, has been a vegetarian since she was 13 years old. At that time, her father showed her a movie about factory farming. She learned that pigs, cows, and other animals were raised in horrible conditions, only to be slaughtered so humans could eat them. Kim was very upset by the information and images. She became a strong believer in animal rights and vowed never to eat meat again. She finds it difficult to sit beside friends at the dining hall when they eat hamburgers or chicken.

Kim's friend, Eric, is her same age. He has been a vegetarian since birth, having been part of a family that ate very carefully for health reasons. Avoiding meat in his diet is so natural to him and that he never thinks much about it. He is very used to seeing others eating meat and generally doesn't mind.

On the topic of eating meat, clearly Kim and Eric have similar attitudes. Neither one would agree to do it. However, the affective component of Kim's attitude is stronger than Eric's. She has intense emotions when she sees someone eating a turkey sandwich: she wants to cry, gets angry, and sometimes even chastises the person.

Eric, who shares her attitude about not wanting to eat meat, has only vague feelings of disgust when he sees it being eaten. It doesn't look appetizing to him, but he is not upset. An affective component of his attitude is present (disgust) but it is not as primary as it is for Kim.

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