Further Information

The Nature of Attitudes

An attitude is a cognition (form of thought) that is formed through experience and influences our behavior. Both parts of this definition are important for our purposes. The fact that attitudes are formed through experience means that we can, potentially, change them. When a persuader gives a message to an auditor (an audience member), that message becomes part of the listener’s experience, and it can affect his or her attitudes. The fact that attitudes influence our behavior means that we can use persuasion as a means to achieve our goals -- when the behavior, or actions, or others can help attain those goals.
Attitudes have two basic components: beliefs and values. Beliefs are, roughly, statements of facts. Beliefs are potentially verifiable. We say a belief is true or correct when it seems to reflect the world and false or incorrect when it seems contradicted by the world. Values are judgments of worth, like good or bad, useful or useless, expensive or cheap, efficient or inefficient. Together, these cognitions (thoughts), beliefs and values, form attitudes.

Source: "The Nature of Attitudes and Persuasion." CIOS - Home. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. <http://www.cios.org/encyclopedia/persuasion/Aintroduction_4nature.htm>.