Functions of Attitude

Functions of Attitude

Daniel Katz suggested four important functions of attitudes:

1. The Adjustment Function
People have a tendency to maximize the rewards and minimize the penalties in their environment. Attitudes serve as the means to attain desired goals and avoid undesirable ones. People adjust themselves to their work environment by adapting their attitudes. Employees who are well paid, develop positive attitudes towards their jobs and organization as a whole, and obviously feel better adjusted to the work environment, whereas if employee is not given the desired treatment, they feel dissatisfied and non-adjusted to his work environment. These attitudes help employees to adjust in their environment and form a basis for future behaviour.

2. Ego Defensive Function
Every man is eager to maintain and protect his self-image. Attitudes facilitate this process. When a person’s ego is threatened by an adverse circumstances like a frustrating event, a derogatory order from a superior or a jealous action of a colleague, attitude helps him to perceive the situation in a proper spirit so that ego is not undermined. People generally try to project their image of superiority over convenient inferior groups. Attitudes gives a perception that provides a rationalisation for the behaviour, e.g. the younger subordinate manager continuously challenges the decisions taken by older manager. Instead of accepting the failure of the decisions, older manager may lack experience and is impatient, stubborn, arguing etc. By doing this he develops negative attitudes towards the young manager, though, the older manager is incapable of making right decision and is incompetent. By doing this he also defends his ego. Our attitudes serve to justify our actions. In case, if younger manager thinks that boss is good enough then he has to justify it by his actions such as stop criticizing his decisions.

3. Value-Expressive Function

Attitudes are the means of expressing one’s principal values. They give clarity to one’s self-image and enhance his self-identity. For instance, a manager, who is a staunch believer in work ethics, will, instead of directing his subordinates, tell them, ‘you have to work harder because it is the tradition of the company. It is hard work of the employees that has made it  a prestigious institution.’ Attitudes provide a platform to express the central values of an individual as well as the organization. Organization makes plan and process them by keeping themselves aligned with its core values.

4. Knowledge Function
Attitudes provide us a frame of reference on the basis of which we relate ourselves with the objects of attitude. For example, the employee, who has negative attitude towards bosses, may always think that his boss is trying to manipulate or exploit him even when he is being rewarded. His attitude towards the boss may be far away from the reality and have no applications on practical grounds. Thus, attitudes supply standards and frames of reference that allow people to organise and explain the world around them. Similarly, management always considers unions as putting unnecessary demands and unions consider them as exploiting and manipulating the workforce. Their negative attitudes are based on the knowledge gathered through standard or general frame of references. But, they help individual to relate himself with other people, events or objects.