Attitude is fundamental to the success or failure that we experience in our life. There is little difference in people physically or intellectually. But what does make the difference is the attitude. You can take two people of similar background, education, skill and intelligence and find that one is the kind of person you are looking for because of a positive attitude while the other is a complete dud – the eternal pessimist! Your attitude is the big difference. Take this test to have a closer look at yourself and you may find the key to turning your life around
Perhaps the most straightforward way of finding out about someone’s attitudes would be to ask them. However, attitudes are related to self-image and social acceptance.
In order to preserve a positive self-image, people’s responses may be affected by social desirability. They may not well tell about their true attitudes, but answer in a way that they feel socially acceptable.
Given this problem, various methods of measuring attitudes have been developed. However, all of them have limitations. In particular the different measures focus on different components of attitudes – cognitive, affective and behavioral – and as we know, these components do not necessarily coincide.
Attitude measurement can be divided into two basic categories
- Direct Measurement (likert scale and semantic differential)
- Indirect Measurement (projective techniques and the implicit association test)
The semantic differential technique of Osgood et al. (1957) asks a person to rate an issue or topic on a standard set of bipolar adjectives (i.e. with opposite meanings), each representing a seven point scale.
To prepare a semantic differential scale, you must first think of a number of words with opposite meanings that are applicable to describing the subject of the test.
For example, participants are given a word, for example ‘car’, and presented with a variety of adjectives to describe it. Respondents tick to indicate how they feel about what is being measured.
In the picture (above), you can find Osgood’s map of people’s ratings for the word ‘polite’. The image shows ten of the scales used by Osgood. The image maps the average responses of two groups of 20 people to the word ‘polite’.
The semantic differential technique reveals information on three basic dimensions of attitudes: evaluation, potency (i.e. strength) and activity.
- Evaluation is concerned with whether a person thinks positively or negatively about the attitude topic (e.g. dirty – clean, and ugly – beautiful).
- Potency is concerned with how powerful the topic is for the person (e.g. cruel – kind, and strong – weak).
- Activity is concerned with whether the topic is seen as active or passive (e.g. active – passive).
Using this information we can see if a persons feeling (evaluation) towards an object is consistent with their behavior. For example, a place might like the taste of chocolate (evaluative) but not eat it often (activity).
The evaluation dimension has been most used by social psychologists as a measure of a person’s attitude, because this dimension reflects the affective aspect of an attitude.