Attitude is a key concept in social psychology. In academic psychology parlance, attitudes are positive or negative views of an "attitude object": a person, behaviour, or event. Research has shown that people can also be "ambivalent" towards a target, meaning that they simultaneously possess a positive and a negative attitude towards it. There is also a great deal of new research emerging on "implicit" attitudes, which are essentially attitudes that people are not consciously aware of, but that can be revealed through sophisticated experiments using people's response times to stimuli (how quickly they can make judgements about them).

Implicit and "explicit" attitudes (i.e. the ones people report when they consciously ask themselves how much they like a thing) both seem to affect people's behaviour, although in different ways. They tend not to be strongly associated with each other, although in some cases they are. The exact relationship between them is not currently well understood.

Unlike personality, attitudes are expected to change as a function of experience, and there are numerous theories of attitude formation and attitude change, including:

  1. Dissonance-reduction theory, associated with Leon Festinger
  2. Self-perception theory, associated with Daryl Bem
  3. Persuasion