Nature and operation of attitudes

Annu Rev Psychol. 2001:52:27-58. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.27.


This survey of attitude theory and research published between 1996 and 1999 covers the conceptualization of attitude, attitude formation and activation, attitude structure and function, and the attitude-behavior relation. Research regarding the expectancy-value model of attitude is considered, as are the roles of accessible beliefs and affective versus cognitive processes in the formation of attitudes. The survey reviews research on attitude strength and its antecedents and consequences, and covers progress made on the assessment of attitudinal ambivalence and its effects. Also considered is research on automatic attitude activation, attitude functions, and the relation of attitudes to broader values. A large number of studies dealt with the relation between attitudes and behavior. Research revealing additional moderators of this relation is reviewed, as are theory and research on the link between intentions and actions. Most work in this context was devoted to issues raised by the theories of reasoned action and planned behavior. The present review highlights the nature of perceived behavioral control, the relative importance of attitudes and subjective norms, the utility of adding more predictors, and the roles of prior behavior and habit.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Attitude*
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Psychological Theory
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Responsibility