Attitude Object in Psychology: Definition & Overview

Instructor: David McMillan
Attitude objects are what you make a judgment about or have a positive or negative feeling toward. In this lesson, you will learn about the definition of attitude objects, see examples of attitude objects, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Explanation of Attitude Objects

Imagine it is a presidential election year in the United States, and there is a candidate that you feel would do a great job for the country. Now imagine one of your friends approaches you and asks which presidential candidate you are going to vote for and why you feel he is the best person for the job. You are passionate about this topic and flattered that your friend is interested in your opinion, so you begin to explain why you feel your choice is the best candidate.

In this scenario, you have made a judgment about the individual you feel would make the best president. This judgment (or feeling) is what we call an attitude, and your choice for president is the target, or object, of that attitude. Thus, the candidate in this case is the attitude object. Attitude objects are what you make a judgment about and/or what you have feelings toward.

Positive and Negative Attitudes

Valence refers to how positive or negative something is. In the above example, you had a positive attitude toward your presidential candidate (positive valence). It is important to note that you could also have a negative attitude toward an attitude object (negative valence).

Thinking of the previous example, let's say that you not only think your choice for president is the best person for the job but you feel that all of the other candidates are not even capable of running for president. Thus, you have a negative attitude toward the other candidates (negative valence), who are also attitude objects.

People, Places, and Things

Up to this point, we have only used people as examples of attitude objects. However, attitude objects could be places, food, ideas, or virtually anything you could feel good or bad about. For example, let's say that you want to go get pizza for dinner because it is one of your favorite foods, but your friend hates pizza. Pizza, in this case, is the attitude object. Even though there are two different attitudes about pizza in this case, there is still only one attitude object.

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