Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mack C. Shelley
Attitudes are defined as the conceptual beginning of opinions, which may be regarded as an expressed attitude. The fundamental difference between an opinion and an attitude is that an opinion can be defined as an observable, usually verbalized response to an issue, situation, or question, whereas an attitude is a covert, unexpressed psychological predisposition or tendency. An additional difference is that attitudes often are thought of as expressions of fundamental likes or dislikes (affects), and opinions as more cognitive conscious decisions about what or whom to support. Large-scale measurement of attitudes, particularly through survey methods, was made possible through the development of psychometric theory and related statistical methods in the early twentieth century and accelerated greatly with the availability of easily used statistical computing packages and high-speed computer equipment. Attitudes vary along several dimensions. They may be manifest, meaning that they are openly expressed—such as attitudes about whether privatizing public ...