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Attitudes in Social Behavior

Part Three. Social Psychology

  1. James M. Olson PhD1,
  2. Gregory R. Maio PhD2

Published Online: 15 APR 2003

DOI: 10.1002/0471264385.wei0513

Handbook of Psychology

Handbook of Psychology

How to Cite

Olson, J. M. and Maio, G. R. 2003. Attitudes in Social Behavior. Handbook of Psychology. Three:13:299–325.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Western Ontario, Department of Psychology, London, Ontario, Canada

  2. 2

    University of Wales, Department of Psychology, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2003


The social psychology literature on attitudes is reviewed. The structure of attitudes is examined in terms of two conceptual issues: whether attitudes are made up of one or three components and whether the evaluative aspect of attitudes is unidimensional or bidimensional. The possible functions of attitudes are considered, and the relations between attitudes and higher-order constructs such as values and ideologies are discussed. Numerous characteristics of attitudes are defined, including accessibility, ambivalence, and strength. The processes involved in attitude formation are summarized, and the effects of attitudes on information processing are discussed. Finally, the issue of attitude-behavior consistency is examined, focusing on the conditions under which attitudes predict behavior strongly.


  • attitude-behavior consistency;
  • attitude functions;
  • attitudes;
  • attitude strength;
  • attitude structure;
  • beliefs;
  • values