Attitude

ATTITUDE (יֵ֫צֶר, H3671, the form of the thoughts of the heart; tendency; impulse; διανοείται, verb form of dianoia, to have a frame of mind.) A position determined or taken to serve a purpose; stance or bearing as indicating feeling, mood, action; a posture of the mind, a manner of acting, feeling or thinking that shows one’s disposition, beliefs, opinions, etc.

Psychological definition and description.

Ruch states that an attitude is “an emotionalized system of ideas which predispose an organism (individual) to act in certain ways under certain conditions.” Attitude represents both (1) an orientation toward or away from some object, concept or situation, and (2) a readiness to respond in a predetermined manner to these or related objects, concepts or situations. (The definition combines features of Allport’s definition [1954], and that of Hovland, Janis, and Kelly [1953].) The term expresses something of an enduring, learned disposition to behave in a consistent way toward a given class of objects; a persistent mental and/or neutral state of readiness to react to a certain object or class of objects; not as they are but as they are conceived to be. The readiness state has a directive effect upon feeling and action related to the object. What the term seeks to convey overlaps in actual behavior with other psychological factors which are preparations for and attendant to response. “Attitude” is one of many terms that refer to an aspect of personality and behavior which are inferred to account for persistent and consistent behavior toward a family of related situations or objects. Specific attitudes are named in terms of the object with which they are concerned; often qualified to indicate the feeling component as well; e.g. “His negative attitude to religion.”

The first technical use of “attitude” was made by M. Calkins for such basic relations of the self to its objects as receptivity, activity, sympathy, egoism, etc. Later use includes such affectively toned states as expectancy or certainty. Interest has been shown in regard to sociological and psychological uses, both private and public, which might properly be made of the term. In particular, there is the matter of measurement. Instruments are developed which seek to elicit responses from persons and/or groups indicative of attitudes or opinions which they hold. Typically, the test items are stimuli of some sort of verbal statement concerning some situation, trend, issue, problem or principle. Examples include the Thurstone Attitude Scale, which utilizes certain statements which represent degrees of strength of a given attitude; the Likert Attitude Scale seeks degrees of steps of agreement; the Guttman or Cornell Scale of Attitudes, is composed of items to which higher or lower strengths of attitudes may be determined. Psychologists, such as Carl Jung, have suggested that there are “attitude types” prevalent among persons and/or groups, a classification of individuals which may be made according to their general way of reacting to stimuli.

As related to Biblical ideas.

One cannot actually speak of Biblical usage of the term; rather how it is related to Biblical usages. The term “attitude” does not appear in the KJV. Nor is there any specific word in the ancient languages which allow for a direct tr. Yetser and dianoeitai are suggestive. These words are tr. in the RSV as “imaginations of the thoughts of his heart” (Gen 6:5); “purposes which they are already forming” (Deut 31:21); “the thing formed” (Isa 29:16); “shaped” (Hab 2:18); and “our frame” (Ps 103:14). Although yetser is not used in the original language, the Berkeley VS renders “test my soul and my attitude” (Ps 26:2b). The idea presented in this tr. of this particular v. expresses well a profound concern noted throughout the Scriptures. There is a vital importance attached to that “inner posture and predisposer of behavior.” Biblical treatment of man’s behavior gives special attention and importance to such aspects of personality and actions as are well expressed in the term “attitude.” Were the Biblical writers writing in our time and with the Eng. language, it is probable that they might make much of the word. The Scriptures emphasize the importance of those inmost thoughts, feelings and purposes of the soul. “For the word of God is...discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). See also Heart, Mind, Soul.