An attitude is a positive, negative, or mixed eval- uation of an object that is expressed at some level of intensity—nothing more, nothing less. Like, love, dislike, hate, admire, and detest are the kinds of words that peo- ple use to describe their attitudes. It’s important to real- ize that attitudes cannot simply be represented along a single continuum ranging from wholly positive to wholly negative—as you might expect if attitudes were like the volume button on a remote control unit or the lever on a thermostat that raises or lowers temperature. Rather, our attitudes can vary in strength along both positive and negative dimensions. In other words, we can react to something with positive affect, negative affect, ambivalence (mixed emotions), or apathy and indifference. At times, people have both positive and negative reac- tions to the same attitude object without feeling conflict because they are conscious of one reaction but not the other. Someone who is outwardly welcoming of racial minorities but harbors unconscious prejudice is a case in point.
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