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In psychology, a mental position with regard to a fact or state. Attitudes reflect a tendency to classify objects and events and to react to them with some consistency. Attitudes are not directly observable but rather are inferred from the objective, evaluative responses a person makes. Thus, investigators depend heavily on behavioral indicators of attitudeswhat people say, how they respond to questionnaires, or such physiological signs as changes in heart rate. Attitude research is employed by social psychologists, advertising professionals, and political scientists, among others. Public-opinion researchers often attempt to distinguish attitudes from related concepts such as values, opinions, and knowledge.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on attitude, visit Britannica.com.