Personality Measurement

By Leonard W. Ferguson | Go to book overview

4
ATTITUDES: AN A PRIORI APPROACH

We learned in the last two chapters that the concept interest covers such things as our likes and dislikes, our preferences, and our aversions. In contrast, the concept attitude, with which we are to deal in this and in the next chapter, covers our beliefs. We believe something is right or that something is wrong. We favor this and object to that. We accept this position and reject that position. This believing or disbelieving, this favoring or not favoring, this accepting or rejecting, constitute expressions of attitude.

To illustrate concretely the difference between an interest and an attitude, let us consider the statement "I like bananas." Are we to consider this statement expressive of an attitude toward bananas or expressive of an interest in bananas? Ordinarily, we would classify this statement as an expression of interest, not as an expression of attitude. We do this because there is implied in this statement no acceptance or denial of any belief about bananas. The statement "I like bananas" implies nothing at all as to whether I think it is a good or a bad thing for me to do so. The statement "Bananas are good for children" we would classify as an expression of attitude. It clearly implies a certain belief about bananas, namely, that they are good for children.

Our interest in bananas and our attitude toward bananas are two independent concepts. We can believe that bananas are good for children (attitude), but still not like them (interest). We can believe that bananas are not good for children (attitude), but we can, nevertheless, like them (interest). We can believe that bananas are good for children (attitude), and can also like them (interest). And last of all, we can believe that bananas are bad for children (attitude), and we can also dislike them (interest). We may summarize our discussion by saying that an interest is an expression of feeling, whereas an attitude is an expression of belief.

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