Attitude Formation Theory in Psychology

Attitude Formation Theory in Psychology
Coming up next: Central Route to Persuasion: Definition & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Attitude Formation Theories
  • 1:00 What Is Attitude?
  • 1:19 Three Theories
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nathan Kilgore

Nathan has taught college Psychology, Sociology, English, and Communications and has a master's degree in education.

In psychology, there are three key theories that describe attitude formation. This lesson names the three founders of attitude formation while providing an overview of each theory.

Attitude Formation Theories Defined

Attitude formation theories help us understand how a person's attitude takes shape and why a person might have a particular attitude or how that attitude came to exist. Attitude formation is of particular interest to psychology because attitudes often direct behavior.

There is no single dominant theory on attitude formation. Rather, there are three theories that are used most often to describe attitude formation: functionalism, learning, and cognitive dissonance theories. Attitude formation theories suggest that perhaps we do what benefits us (functionalist theory), or maybe our past experiences have taught us how to act (learning theory), or it might just be an attempt to restore harmony to two opposing truths that are held (cognitive dissonance theory). All attempt to answer the question of where attitudes come from. We will take a look at these theories in this lesson.

What Is Attitude?

Let's quickly define the word attitude. An attitude is the value a person assigns to something or someone. How do you feel about the current president of the United States? What do you think about classical music? These questions will reveal your level of value towards these things, or, your attitude about the president or classical music.

Three Theories

Attitudes are born out of what we know (cognitive), feel (emotions), and do (behavior) about someone or something. The three foundational theories that describe the process of attitude formation are:

Functionalist Theory

Daniel Katz, a functional theorist, suggests that attitudes are formed according to how a particular person or thing meets our needs. To a functionalist, attitudes are shaped based on the personal benefit they offer. For example, one might have a positive attitude about the president because they find his political policies meet their needs. Katz also notes that we form attitudes to support our self-image or existing values. According to the functionalist, an attitude will change when the needs of the individual change.

Learning Theory

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support