Are attitudes learnt? Explain how?
Yes, attitudes are learnt through one's own experience and through interaction with others. There are also some sort of inborn aspect of attitudes, but such genetic factors influence attitudes only indirectly, along with learning. The processes and conditions of learning may be different, resulting in varying attitudes among people.
1. Learning attitudes by association :-
Some students often develop a liking for a particular subject because of the teacher. This is because they see many positive qualities in that teacher; these positive qualities get linked to the subject that s/he teaches, and ultimately get expressed in the form of liking for the subject. In other words, a positive attitude towards the subject is learned through the positive association between a teacher and a student.
2. Learning attitudes by being rewarded or punished :-
If an individual is praised for showing a particular attitude, chances are high that s/he will develop that attitude further. For example, if a teenager does yogasanas regularly, and gets the honour of being ‘Miss Good Health’ in her school, she may develop a positive attitude towards yoga and health in general. Similarly, if a child constantly falls ill because s/he eats junk food instead of proper meals, then the child is likely to develop a negative attitude towards junk food, and also a positive attitude towards eating healthy food.
3. Learning attitudes through modelling (observing others) :-
Often it is not through association, or through reward and punishment, that we learn attitudes. Instead, we learn them by observing others being rewarded or punished for expressing thoughts, or showing behaviour of a particular kind towards the attitude object. For example, children may form a respectful attitude towards elders, by observing that their parents show respect for elders, and are appreciated for it.
4. Learning attitudes through group or cultural norms :-
Very often, we learn attitudes through the norms of our group or culture. Norms are unwritten rules about behaviour that everyone is supposed to show under specific circumstances. Over time, these norms may become part of our social cognition, in the form of attitudes. Learning attitudes through group or cultural norms may actually be an example of all three forms of learning i.e. learning through association, reward or punishment, and modelling.
5. Learning through exposure to information :-
Many attitudes are learned in a social context, but not necessarily in the physical presence of others. Today, with the huge amount of information that is being provided through various media, both positive and negative attitudes are being formed. By reading the biographies of self-actualised persons, an individual may develop a positive attitude towards hard work and other aspects as the means of achieving success in life.