The Nature of Attitude

Daniel D. Droba
Department of Sociology of the University of North Dakota

The purpose of this article is to give a theoretical analysis of the "attitude" concept. As with many other social psychological terms, a lack of sufficient uniformity of understanding and use of the term "attitude" exists among the various writers in this field. It has been used in subjective and objective, narrow and broad senses. This paper aims to contribute to a clarification of the concept.

Considering most of the major literature on attitudes, writers differ as to their willingness to give a definition of the concept. They may be divided into three groups: First, those who do not give a definition. The second group includes those who give a tentative working definition in connection with some research. In the third group belong those who give a more elaborate definition, often as part of some theoretical discussion.

Certain objections have been advanced against defining an attitude, particularly by those belonging to the first group. One of them is the suggestion that research on attitudes can be carried on without a definition. It is true that research can be carried on without a definition, but a theoretical analysis of the concept will very likely help to carry on such research with greater precision, because the underlying phenomena are understood with greater accuracy. Such an analysis may also suggest new problems that could otherwise not be uncovered.

Another objection to defining an attitude is sometimes implicitly, if not explicitly, stated as follows: Attitudes are too intangible and too hypothetical phenomena to be amenable to a satisfactory description and explanation. In response to this objection, it can be said that attitudes are no more "hypothetical" than any other psychological phenomena, such as intelligence, mechanical ability, and musical ability. They are made "tangible" through certain in-

( 445) -dicators, such as statements that are accurate enough for the purposes of measurement.

A third objection is given in the form of a statement that research is the way for clarifying the nature of attitudes and not a theoretical analysis. This objection seems to place too much emphasis on research. Both analysis and research should be used for clarifying the situation, and not research 'alone. Analysis can be of about as much help to research as research is to analysis.

The nature of attitude will be treated under several headings as follows: the use of the term, the composition of attitude, the development of attitude, the object of reference, types of attitudes, relation of attitude to other phenomena, and attitude in its relation to behavior.


The term "attitude" is a transliteration of the term "aptitude" which had been used exclusively by painters and sculptors. "Aptitude" is derived from the Latin "aptitudo" which in turn comes from "aptus," meaning suited, fitted. As soon as "aptitude" took the form of "attitude," its use became a general one.

For the purpose of obtaining a somewhat more accurate estimate of the use of the term in scientific literature, the writer has examined the indexes of fifty-five textbooks in the fields of sociology, psychology, and social psychology. In doing this the writer recognizes the fact that appearance in the index is only a very limited way of indicating the use of a term. Sometimes a term is employed in the text but is not included in the index. However, the index will at least show what terms or concepts were considered important enough by the author to be included in it.

Table I shows that out of the twenty textbooks in sociology six have included the term in the index. This is 30 per cent of the total. Among the twenty textbooks in psychology ten have used the term, which is 50 per cent of the total. Fifteen textbooks in social psychology have been reviewed and all but two were found to have used the term. One of them did not include the term in the index but its use all through the book was at once evident. Thus 86 per cent of the writers on social psychology have employed the term.

Among the writers of these fifty-five textbooks, Giddings was

( 446)  

Textbooks Before
  1900-20   1920-25   After
Sociology (20) 1       1   4   6
Psychology (20)     3   3   4   10
Social Psychology (15)     1   4   8   13
Total number of texts using the term 1   4   8   16   29
Total number of texts examined 2   17   16   20   55
Percentage of the total 50   23   50   80   52

the first to use the term in his Principles of Sociology, published in 1896. Judd, a psychologist, came next. He used it in 1907. Another psychologist, Münsterberg, employed it in 1917; and Warren, a psychologist, in 1919. All others used the term after 1920.

It is evident from the above that the use of the term "attitude" in American scientific literature, so far as the textbooks represent it, is a very recent one. Before 1900 it appears in only one text-book, between 1900 and 1920 in four, between 1920 and 1925 in eight, and after 1925 in sixteen textbooks.

About the same trend is apparent if the percentages of the total number of books in each period are taken into consideration. One of the two books mentioned before 1900 contains the term, which is 50 per cent of the total. This number is not representative be-cause of the absence of old books from the library. Between 1900 and 1920, 23 per cent of the total number of books have used the term ; in the period from 1920 to 1925, 50 per cent ; and after 1925, 80 per cent.

It seems that the greatest impetus for an extensive use of the term comes from the field of social psychology. We have seen that social psychologists have employed it more frequently than the sociologists or the psychologists. Thomas and Znaniecki, the social psychologists, seem to be responsible for introducing the "attitude" concept into the literature of American sociology and social psychology through their monumental work, The Polish Peasant in

(447) Europe and America (1918-1920). The increasing interest of psychologists in the term can be traced back to a reaction from the extremities of the instinctivists and from the impractical S-R psychology of a few years ago.

After such an analysis as the one above, it seems quite out of place to suggest discarding the term, as one writer has done. The general trend for its use is an extensive one. Moreover, to suggest the discarding of a useful term seems to be contrary to the present needs in sociology, social psychology, and psychology. We do not possess an adequate number of terms to cover all the various phenomena we know. A real service to scientific terminology would be made by suggesting new terms for the new concepts and elements of phenomena that have been discovered in the different fields of social science.


There is a pretty general agreement among writers in this field that an attitude is a certain subjective state of preparation to action. It is the foreshadowing of what the individual will likely be doing with respect to the object in question. Only a very small minority would identify an attitude with the behavior of the person. The latter extremists belong largely to the behavioristic school of psychology.

When the next question is asked--what is this preparation to action?—opinions begin to differ considerably. Samples of the various definitions of attitude will be given below. Four major types of definitions of attitudes may be distinguished as follows:

1. The "organic-set" type. An attitude is largely a physical preparation to action. Past experiences leave certain permanent traces in the neural and muscular system and, when the proper stimulus is presented, a certain activity will follow which is in line with the habitualized mechanism. Under this heading two sub-types of definitions may be distinguished: the "motor-set" type, and the "neural-set" type.

An example of the first sub-type of definition is that of F. H. Allport (1). According to him an attitude is "the motor, set built up by suggestion." He gives several examples and continues to say that "all examples of this sort involve a preparatory setting of the synapses at the motor centers and possibly increases in tonicity of

( 448) the muscles to be employed in carrying out the line of behavior suggested."

The second sub-type may be represented by G. W. Allport (2) who says that "an attitude is a disposition to. act which is built up by the integration of numerous specific responses of a similar type, but which exists as a general neural 'set' and when activated by a specific stimulus results in behavior that is more obviously a function of the disposition than of the stimulus."

It seems that the tendency among the exponents of the neural and the motor theories is to point toward something tangible when writing about attitudes. However, explanations of this sort are just as hypothetical as any other theories. Very likely there is a relation between the neural, motor, and the mental phenomena, but just what this relation is, we do not know.

2. General theories. According to writers belonging to this group an attitude is a very general preparation to action. The definitions are less definite than any found in the literature. In the terminology of Lundberg (19), an attitude "denotes the general set of the organism as a whole toward an object or situation which calls for adjustment . . .  It includes all the neural and other physiological sets and postures, and their psychological correlates, toward a situation." For Dewey (10) an attitude is something latent, potential, subdued, non-patent, a form of habit which re-quires a positive stimulus other than the attitude.

Of course, the major defect of the above theories lies in their vagueness. The writers have intended to give some kind of definition in order to satisfy the usual requirement of describing a phenomenon in question, but have not gone far enough in analyzing it. In an attempt to differentiate between the various states of the mental constitution of man it is always better to give as definite an analysis as possible.

Cantril's (9) important contribution to the theory of attitudes is the finding that attitudes are general rather than specific. This does not mean, however, that the "general" nature of attitudes can-not be analyzed and described in specific terms.

3. The behavior theory. This theory represents a deviation from all the other theories of attitudes in that an attitude is not a state of preparation in the individual but the behavior itself. The

( 449) totality of certain types of conduct with respect to a particular object of reference is said to be the content of an attitude.

In the opinion of Bain (3), an attitude is "the relatively stable overt behavior of a person which affects his status." "Attitudes which are common to a group are thus social attitudes or `values' in the Thomasonian sense. The attitude is the status-fixing behavior. This differentiates it from habit and vegetative processes as such, and totally ignores the hypothetical 'subjective states' which have formerly been emphasized."

To call attitudes a form of behavior is a confusion of concepts, or a misunderstanding of the preparatory functions of the individual. That preparatory mental states and functions do exist is obvious to anyone on a close analysis. Before I go to a club meeting I make a certain preparation. I recall the notice I saw on the bulletin board, the name of the speaker, the topic of his speech ; I anticipate the value of listening to him; and possibly I may think of the type of people I may meet that night. All these things have prepared me to go, they have created in me a predominantly felt disposition to attend when the time arrives. That readiness to go is all in the individual, it is not an overt behavior. The overt behavior will follow as a result of the attitude.

Symonds (25) has also expressed the opinion that attitudes are concerned with doing, with reactions rather than with anything else. However, he recognized that "verbal attitudes" are of special value in a democratic community where the common conduct—the carrying-on of affairs—comes from the verbally expressed desires of the people.

4. The "mental-preparation" theories. Definitions falling under this heading are similar to those described in the first two groups in that a readiness to act is taken as a basis rather than the behavior itself. The difference is, however, that these theories are largely couched in mental terms as compared with the neural and motor theories, and are more specific than those included under the general theories.

Several varieties of definitions may be noticed in this group of writers.

a. The "behavior-patterns" type. Park and Burgess (22) wrote that "the clearest way to think of attitude is as behavior pattern or unit of behavior. The two most elementary behavior

(450) patterns are the tendency to approach and the tendency to with-draw." According to Wolfe (29), "an attitude is the type of sentiment which the individual manifests upon the recurrence of a given situation. It is a behavior pattern, with reference especially to the 'feeling' side of response." In the terminology of Bernard (6), "attitudes are for the most part acquired behavior patterns having been built up out of our experiences in characteristic situations."

The above definitions suggest an inclination toward a behavioristic trend of thought, yet the difference is apparent. The "behavior patterns" are traces of previous and future conduct of the individual. In the opinion of the writer, the phrase "behavior patterns" is not an appropriate one because it lays too much stress on the behavior that is to follow.

b. The "tendency-to-act" type. Faris (12) is one of the social psychologists expounding this theory. He writes that "an attitude is a tendency to act." According to Bogardus (8), "an attitude is a tendency to act toward or against something in the environment which becomes thereby a positive or negative value." Murphy and Murphy (20) wrote that attitudes are "verbalized or verbalizable tendencies, dispositions, adjustments toward certain acts."Young (30) also reduces attitudes to "sets or tendencies to action."

These definitions belong among those that most nearly approximate the facts. An attitude is very much like a tendency to act toward or against an environmental factor. It is either favorable or unfavorable to an object. Of course, the intermediate degree may shade off almost imperceptibly into the favorable or the un-favorable side, but in the great majority of attitudes it is easy to decide which are "for" and which are "against."

c. Other types of definitions. Thomas and Znaniecki (26) maintain that an attitude is "a process of individual consciousness which determines real or possible activity of the individual in the social world. Thus, hunger, that compels the consumption of the foodstuff, the workman's decision to use the tool . . . are attitudes.” Here the concept is extended to far. If hunger is an attitude, sex is also an attitude, and all other physiological drives, such as the desire to be in a temperature similar to the temperature of the body and to withdraw from a painful stimulus. An attitude

( 451) is a sociological and psychological concept having little or nothing to do with the physiology of the organism.

North (21) has defined attitude as "the totality of those states that lead to or point toward some particular activity of the organism. The attitude is, therefore, the dynamic element in human behavior, the motive for activity." North has extended the meaning of attitudes, just as Bain (4) has done, to include the motives. In my opinion, motives constitute a separate large field in the mental make-up of a human personality and should, therefore, not be con-fused with attitudes. Attitudes point out the direction an activity will take; motives are the starters of the activity.

For Lumley (18) an attitude is "a susceptibility to certain kinds of stimuli and readiness to respond repeatedly in a given way—which are possible toward our world and the parts of it which impinge upon us." This definition seems to imply that an attitude is some kind of motive or dynamic set that is ready to function whenever the proper stimulus is given. Folsom (14) goes even further in saying that an attitude is "a reaction of the human being." However, an attitude is hardly a readiness to respond, or a response itself, it is rather readiness to respond in a certain way after the response has been elicited by the proper motive.

The writer's theory in brief is as follows : An attitude is a mental disposition of the human individual to act for or against a definite object. This "disposition" is composed predominantly of feeling elements. When we express our attitude toward a particular object, we are not reasoning about it, we are not aware of all the factors that go into the type of activity we are performing. We indicate our disposition half unconsciously as though we had known the "why" of it. For this reason, the expression of attitude is an immediate one. It is based on a series of experiences with respect to the object which have been molded into a totality that is too complex and too intimate to understand.

However, an attitude is not composed of feeling elements alone. In each case an attitude is conveyed ; there is some awareness of the direction it takes. We are conscious of the object toward or against which we take a certain stand. We may even recall one or two reasons that have been forgotten. Hence some intellectual control of the direction we take in the attitude is noticeable, but it plays only a minor part in determining the direction. An attitude is a predominantly felt disposition to act in a certain way.

( 452)


Psychologists have been much concerned with the original nature of man. The instinctivist theories have had many followers, and the widespread intelligence tests were supposed to measure nothing but innate abilities. Recently, however, the instinctivist theories have lost popularity and many psychologists are beginning to doubt whether intelligence tests measure innate abilities only. In fact, some are recognizing that intelligence is a compound of inborn and acquired traits. Also greater attention is being paid than in the past to the so-called personality traits that are thought largely to be acquired during a lifetime. The shift from an interest in the measurement of innate tendencies to an interest in acquired abilities is clearly evident among psychologists.

Sociologists have always been concerned with the development of traits in the individual and the group. The subject-matter of sociology is such that it dwells constantly in the field of interaction, cultural products, and social change, and is working on the hypothesis that social life is to a high degree acquired.

For the above reasons it is easy to begin to write about the development of attitudes. There is nothing in attitudes that is not acquired. The origin of certain attitudes may run back to early childhood, but it does not go beyond the first day of the child's life. From then on, attitudes are modified and developed into a relatively constant system of dispositions to determine the directions of activities that are to follow.

Practically all writers on attitudes emphasize the developmental character of attitudes. A few of these points of view will be re-viewed below.

Lasker (17) has shown how race attitudes are developed. He cites a number of cases in which some children play with children belonging to another race without any sign of prejudice. Others have acquired an unfavorable attitude toward the other race due to some unpleasant experience. A case indicating a distinct prejudice is as follows:

"A colored high school girl spoke admiringly to a little girl of five or six years of age. The child evinced fear at the greeting and turned to her mother: `Oh, Mama, the nigger spoke to me!'"

A case in which no prejudice has been developed as yet is as

( 453) follows: "A baby of American parents was born in one of our Mexican colonies. It is now eight months old. It has as yet exhibited no feeling of difference between white and Mexican visitors. All of them fondle and play with it."

Bogardus (7) has found by a statistical method that the American attitudes toward the various immigrants are changing. Toward some immigrants the attitudes are becoming less favorable; toward others, such as the Spanish and the Czechoslovak newcomers, more favorable attitudes are being developed.

Attitudes toward war are all developed in a lifetime. If an individual is born into a society that is imbued with the war system, he will quickly become favorably disposed toward war. If an individual is born into a society without a war system, such as the Eskimos, he will either develop no attitude toward war or he will develop one of an unfavorable sort.

An interesting experiment had been performed by a Polish psychologist, F. Baumgarten (5). The date of the experiment was 1918, the place was Warsaw. It was performed during the German occupation of the Polish territory. The results were buried under the ground for fear that the Germans might seize them and punish the experimenter.

She submitted a questionnaire to 360 Polish boys and 340 Polish girls to find out why children hate. Among the questions asked was one with respect to happenings that affected them most. The children cited a number of striking incidents such as explosions, the cries or sobs of wounded or dying, the burning-up of the bridges, and the plundering of the German soldiers. Another question was as to what they wished for the enemy. A series of punishing statements were given such as death, falling off a four-story building, and that all should go to hell alive.

It is clearly evident from the experiment that the extremely unfavorable attitude of the Polish children toward the German soldiers was developed partly during the war while the children were experiencing the horrible incidents caused by the German invasion. An intense hatred for the Germans had been planted in the children as a natural consequence of the severe effects of war.

( 454)


One of the indispensable components of an attitude is the object of reference. It is a concrete goal toward which an attitude is directed. It is the point with reference to which a man becomes disposed so that he can act for or against it whenever the appropriate motive presents itself. In fact, an object of reference is the center around which the attitudinal feelings will form a net of an integrated whole.

The object of reference may also be called a value. This value may be of at least three kinds depending on the type of attitude. If the attitude is unfavorable, the value will become negative; if the attitude is of a medium sort, the value will be medium; and, if the attitude is favorable, its value will be a positive one.

The object of reference or value should be a relatively definite one. The whole of the outside world is too broad and too indefinite an object. Occupation, war, religion, economic issues, and education are much more specific values. It is true that no sharp line can be drawn between the definite and indefinite objects. There are all shades of definiteness and vagueness. Yet for the sake of clarity a distinction should be made between the two.

There are as many objects of reference as there are items of appetition and aversion in the world. An enumeration and classification of all of them would be an almost impossible task. A relatively small number of objects or values with respect to their attitudes have been studied by the various investigators. These can easily be enumerated and classified. A partial list of the objects of reference toward which the attitudes have been studied is given below.


Any classification must have a criterion or guiding principle. In a classification a single criterion must be adhered to consistently. Of course, there may be as many types of classification as there are criteria that can be devised, but it should be recognized that these are different types of classifications.

In the literature sometimes a classification is suggested with a very arbitrary criterion. The time criterion is a very arbitrary one. Thorndike (27) has used it and has suggested arranging attitudes into two classes: the fixed and the temporary attitudes. Under

( 456) the "fixed" heading would be classified such attitudes as racial, occupational, and social. An example of the temporary attitudes would be the instructional attitudes in an experiment. The difficulty is that this writer has extended the meaning of attitudes too far. Yet, if we could ascertain the "birthdays" of most of the attitudes, it would be possible to arrange them with respect to the length of time each was in existence.

Bernard's (6) classification is not fortunate either. He would have two classes, and in the first one he would put attitudes such as the muscular or body attitudes and would call them "overt attitudes." In the second group, the "inner or psychic attitudes," would belong the emotional and intellectual attitudes. The muscular or body "attitudes" should not be called attitudes but postures. In the writer's opinion all attitudes are inner or psychic. Warren's (28) classification into the primary and secondary attitudes is also a very arbitrary one.

Lumley (18) reports four types of attitudes: the attitudes of indifference, the practical attitudes, the emotional attitudes, and the scientific attitudes. A person who is indifferent, who does not want to have anything to do with an object of reference, does not have an attitude toward it. Hence "attitudes of indifference" do not exist. We should say simply that a person is indifferent toward the issue in question. Practical attitudes do exist as degrees of dispositions toward a practical way of dealing with problems. Emotional attitudes do not exist either. We should say simply that a person is emotional. Scientific attitudes are the favorable dispositions toward the scientific method of approach.

In the writer's classification three types of criteria will be used : according to the types of the objects of reference, according to the types of subjects or possessors of attitudes, and according to the degree of favorableness or unfavorableness toward the object of reference. Other types of criteria might be used, but these three are probably the major ones.

The first criterion is a very simple one. One should simply follow the classifications of the objects of reference. The divisions of attitudes and their object are essentially the same. Types of the objects of reference have already been discussed and a list of the major divisions has been suggested. Accordingly, there is no need of any further discussion of this type of classification.

( 457)

The second type of criterion is a somewhat arbitrary one. The subjects or possessors of attitudes are the human beings. Now, a classification of human beings can be transferred to a classification of the attitudes they hold. Faris (11) has suggested a classification of this type. Attitudes of single individuals are called "individual attitudes," and attitudes of groups are named "group attitudes." He points out that the group attitudes are collective phenomena and not mere summations. The writer, however, does not think that any marked difference exists between an average of individual attitudes and the so-called "collective attitudes." The only difference is in the method of investigation. A statistical average is obtained by adding the individual scores and dividing the sum by the number of individuals. A "collective attitude" is obtained very likely by the method of observation. Krueger and Reckless (16) have also adopted this classification.

The third criterion is probably the most significant of all. The simple division of attitudes according to the degree of disposition is as follows: unfavorable attitudes and favorable attitudes. In common language, especially with respect to voting, the twofold division is frequently used. People are accustomed to say: "I am for or against him."

For the purposes of scientific analysis and measurement this type of classification should be carried further. One person may be more favorable to a certain issue than another person is. Or one may be extremely unfavorable toward an object as compared with the attitude of a person who is only mildly unfavorable toward it. As a result at least four types of attitudes can be distinguished. But the division can be carried still further and we may have at least as many as seven different degrees of attitudes: extremely unfavorable, strongly unfavorable, mildly unfavorable, medium position, mildly favorable, strongly favorable, and extremely favorable. A few of these types may sometimes be designated by single phrases such as pacifism and militarism, and optimism and pessimism. These types of phrases may sometimes be multiplied as follows: reaction-ism, conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism.


The relation of attitudes to all the major classes of phenomena cannot be considered here. Only four types of phenomena will be selected and analyzed as follows: trait, opinion, the wish, and the motive.

( 458)

According to Katz and Allport (15) a " `'trait' denotes a type of behavior which the individual exhibits in many differing situations; 'attitude' signifies the set to respond in a particular type of situation. This set may or may not be well integrated with the remainder of the individual's personality." It is true that an attitude always refers to a "particular type of situation" or an object of reference, but it can function consistently in "many differing situations." I can be favorable to church in a club meeting, at a political gathering, on the train, in writing an article, and while talking to a friend. Also, there is no reason to limit the meaning of "trait" as a general concept.

The major distinction between a trait and an attitude lies in the object of reference: An attitude has a definite object of reference, while a trait has a very vague object of reference or it has none at all. Honesty, aggressiveness, and trustworthiness are traits because the object to which they refer has a very wide range and hence is very vague. Racialism, militarism, and liberalism are attitudes because they refer to definite objects, races, war, and social change, respectively.

Rice (23) prefers to avoid the term "opinion" and to use "attitude" instead. To him "opinion" seems to connote too much of the rational and conscious elements. From the writer's point of view the meaning of "opinion" may be changed even if it does connote some rationality. An opinion is what Symonds (25) calls "verbal attitude," but it has a closer relation to the actual attitude than Symonds would admit. An opinion is a verbal expression of attitude. It is an indicator of the underlying dispositions to act.

In this connection, Sherman (24) suggests that inhibitions may cause a person to retain the true and important parts of attitudes unexpressed. Here is a problem for research, but, for the time being, a large number of cases can be considered to eliminate to some extent the disturbing effect of inhibitions.

According to Bogardus (6), "an attitude is not necessarily an opinion, for the latter may be repudiated when the test of action comes." Yet an opinion is one of the best ways of expressing attitudes. It may not be a perfect index but it is a consistent one and, in studying the attitudes of large groups, it will be relatively easy to correct for the discrepancy existing between the opinion and the true indices of a subsequent behavior.


Park and Burgess (22) regard an attitude as a much broader concept than the wish. "If the attitude may be said to play the rôle in social analysis that the elementary substances play in chemical analysis, then the rôle of the wishes may be compared to that of the electrons." Wishes are then the components of attitudes. In the terminology of Faris (11), a wish is an incomplete act with a future satisfaction while an attitude is a residuum of activity coming at the end of satisfaction. A wish may be very temporary. As soon as it is satisfied it ceases to exist. An attitude is usually of a longer duration.

In the view of the writer, a wish is not a component of an attitude but belongs to a different field of the mental constitution of man. It is a motive of a certain kind. Motives should constitute a separate area in the treatment of preparatory functions.

The relation of attitudes to motives may be illustrated by the following analogy: Consider two important facts in target shooting: the pulling of the trigger, and the bodily posture that the shooter takes. Both of them are important conditions necessary for the purpose of hitting the target, but they are, at the same time, essentially different aspects of the total activity. The pulling of the trigger starts the shooting, while the bodily posture determines the direction the bullet will go.

The fundamental difference between attitudes and motives is to be found in the functions they perform. Motives are the starters, while attitudes determine the direction of the activity. The two may be causally related. The destructive results of war may motivate one to take an unfavorable attitude toward war. The constructive efforts of a journal may elicit a favorable attitude toward the journal.


There is a fairly general agreement among writers' that attitudes are true indicators of behavior. An attitude will, in general, be followed by a type of activity indicated in the attitude. However, it is admitted that this is only relatively true. A certain amount of discrepancy between the two exists in almost every case. A mildly pacifistic attitude in time of peace will very likely result in a militaristic activity in time of war.

Bain (3) represents an exception with respect to an appreciation

( 460) of the value of attitudes as forerunners of behavior. The only test of a future conduct for him is how the person behaves at present. The present behavior may be a good index of the behavior that is to follow toward a particular object, but the obtaining of an accurate account of a person's conduct is a lengthy and difficult task, which becomes almost impossible if large groups are being studied. Again, the present behavior in many cases may be just as fallible an index of the future behavior as the attitude is.

In response to Bain, Faris (12) has shown that the subjective experiences are just as important as the objective behavior of a person. He admits that attitudes are difficult to investigate; nevertheless, "what is needed is not denial of the difficult but hard thinking and labor." Even Symonds (25) would admit that attitudes "often give a clue to underlying conduct trends."

To be sure, a discrepancy exists between an attitude and behavior, as pointed out above, and it is to be hoped that sometime we will be able to discover what this discrepancy is. The writer is of the conviction that the discrepancy is a constant one. To predict behavior from attitudes with a fair degree of accuracy will be possible only if the difference is taken into consideration. Sup-pose the score indicating an attitude is 16, and the constant discrepancy is 2. Now, in order to obtain the true index of behavior we subtract the discrepancy from the attitude score which will result in number 14. It is to be noted, however, that we do not expect to predict specific individual acts from attitudes, as Faris (13) well pointed out, but general tendencies in the behavior of groups.

Very little has been done as yet with respect to comparing attitudes with behavior. Zimmermann's (31) experiment is unique in this respect. He has tested farmers' attitudes toward cooperative marketing. He has also obtained the amount of experience of the farmers in cooperative marketing. A correlation was calculated between the two variables and was found to be +.66. This is not a very high correlation but high enough to indicate a positive relation between attitudes toward cooperative marketing and experience in the same activity.

If the correlation between the two above variables is high enough, we shall be able to predict conduct from the attitudes. Before this is done, an extensive research must be undertaken concerning the relation of one to the other.


  1. ALLPORT, F. H. Social psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924. Pp. xiv+453. 
  2. ALLPORT, G. W. The composition of political attitudes. Amer. J. Sociol., 1929-1930, 35, 220-238. 
  3. BAIN, R. An attitude on attitude research. Amer. J. Sociol., 1927-1928, 33, 940-957. 
  4. ————. Theory and measurement of attitudes and opinions. Psy-chol. Bull., 1930, 27, 357-379.
  5. BAUMGARTEN, F., & PRESCOTT, D. A. Why children hate: an experimental investigation of the reactions of school children in Poland to the enemy occupation. J. Educ. Psychol., 1928, 19, 303-312. 
  6. BERNARD, L. L. An introduction to social psychology. New York: Holt, 1926. Pp. x+652. 
  7. BOGARDUS, E. S. Immigration and race attitudes. New York: Heath, 1928. Pp. xi+268. 
  8. ————. Fundamentals of social psychology. (2nd cd.) New York: Century, 1931. Pp. 456. 
  9. CANTRIL, H. General and specific attitudes. Psycho!. Monog., 1932, 42, No. 192. Pp. vii+109. 
  10. DEWEY, J. Human nature and conduct. New York: Holt, 1922. Pp. vii+336. 
  11. FARIS, E. The concept of social attitudes. J. Appl. Sociol., 1925, 9, 404-409.
  12. ————. Attitudes and behavior. Amer. J. Sociol., 1928-1929, 34, 271-281. 
  13. ————. The concept of social attitudes.    In Social attitudes, ed. by K. Young. New York: Holt, 1931. Pp. 3-16. 
  14. FOLSOM, J. K. Social psychology. New York: Harper, 1931. Pp. xviii+701. 
  15. KATZ, D., & ALLPORT, F. H. Students' attitudes. Syracuse, N. Y.: Craftsman Press, 1931. Pp. iii+408. 
  16. KRUEGER, E. T., & RECKLESS, W. C. Social psychology. New York: Longmans, Green, 1931. Pp. viii+578. 
  17. LASKER, B. Race attitudes in children. New York: Holt, 1929. Pp. xvi +394. 
  18. LUMLEY, F. E. Principles of 'sociology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1928. Pp. xii+562. 
  19. LUNDBERG, G. A. Social research. New York: Longmans, Green, 1929. Pp. x+379. 
  20. MURPHY, G., & MURPHY, L. B. Experimental social psychology. New York: Harper, 1931. Pp. 709. 
  21. NORTH, C. C. Social problems and social planning. New York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 1932. Pp. x+409. 
  22. PARK, R. E., & BURGESS, E. W. Introduction to the science of sociology. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1921. Pp. viii+1040. (Rev. ed., 1924.) 


  23. RICE, S. A. Quantitative methods in politics. New York: Knopf, 1928. Pp. xxii+331. 
  24. SHERMAN, M. Theories and measurement of attitudes. Child Develop., 1932, 3, 15-28. 
  25. SYMONDS, P. M. The nature of conduct. New York: Macmillan, 1928. Pp. xi+346. 
  26. THOMAS, W.I., & ZNANIECKI, F. The Polish peasant in Europe and America. (2 vols.) (2nd ed.) New York: Knopf, 1927. Pp. xv+1115; vi+1116-2250. 
  27. THORNDIKE, E. L. Educational psychology, briefer course. New York: Teach. Coll., Columbia Univ., 1914. Pp. xii+442. 
  28. WARREN, H. C. Human psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1919. Pp. xx+460. 
  29. WOLFE, A. B. Conservatism, radicalism, and scientific method: an essay on social attitudes. New York: Macmillan, 1933. Pp. xiv+354. 
  30. YOUNG, K. Social psychology: an analysis of social behavior. New York: Knopf, 1930. Pp. xvii+674+331. 
  31. ZIMMERMANN, C. C. Types of farmers 'attitudes. Soc. Forces, 1927, 5, 591-596. 

University of North Dakota Grand Forks, North Dakota


* Accepted for publication by Carl Murchison of the Editorial Board and received in the Editorial Office, October 3, 1932

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2