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In any person's life, one needs basis to make decisions that affect both him/her and others. For most people, the basis for their considered acts are values, beliefs and attitudes. Although these are closely related, they have different meanings and play different roles in the decision-making process of any individual. On their various functions, however, one's beliefs, values, and attitude constantly interact with those of others. A person's character in addition to personality defines the individual in relations to these three. One’s personality thus is a sum of his beliefs, values, and attitudes. This essay seeks to analyze the difference between attitude, beliefs, and values by defining them and providing a requisite example.
In society, an individual or as a community will have established principles, standards or qualities by which they live by. In essence, these are the qualities human beings hold dear, and those qualities that one considers being worthy of consideration while doing something. In many cases, people derive their values from a particular idea or belief, and that relates to the intrinsic worth of an idea or a behavioral trait. In one’s daily life, his/her values dictate how he/she acts as they influence one’s judgment. Thus, values are a persona’s internal judgment system, which the person runs all ideas and actions. Values are abstract in nature, and thus, the only way to infer another person’s values is through the person’s actions and behavioral traits.
One can get values from different sources. Some of the most common are family, contemporary culture, religion, and the media and in the case of societies, major historical events also influence the value system. Values can be personal or dominant. Dominant values determine how people in a society or a particular definitive community live. In a community or society, almost all the members of the community will share the dominant values, or at least, retain vestiges of the dominant values. Most dominant values are manifest in the institutions that perverse the society such as religion, the media, and the family institution. However, a particular society’s dominant culture can be different from another’s.
A belief is the feeling that something may be true, even in the case where that feeling may be about something seemingly illogical or not rational. The thing one may perceive to be true may be intellectual, philosophical, moral or even political. Beliefs are mostly personal, focusing on an individual. In most cases, they are usually mostly religious, but some are secular. They can be impacted through nurturing by parents and the guidance the society gives in matters such as religion, culture and traditions, mentoring and personal and spiritual experiences. While other people’s beliefs influence those of an individual, the most important thing in the belief system is the self. Sometimes beliefs can be short-term. However, in other cases, they are retained as part of a person’s long-term belief system.
Several types of beliefs are apparent in an individual. The first one is political beliefs. Most people have an idea of how they want governance to be. Political beliefs are usually articulated in terms of political ideologies and encompass a wide range of affairs in any polity. For instance, some people can be regarded as leftist. Leftists will usually have a belief in wealth redistribution, the importance of social security and that the government should play an active role in the political economy of the country. On the other hand, people with rightist political ideologies will be instead believe in limited government, free market ideas and the restriction of government interference in the private life of an individual. Other political beliefs are the liberal and conservative beliefs. While liberals insist on the issue of progress and reform, conservatives favor the continuation of the status quo.
Beliefs can also be economic. Economic beliefs revolve around the value one places on the monetary value of things. For some people, money is the ultimate object that one needs to generate so that they can live the life they desire. For others, not everything has a monetary value. Economic beliefs also straddle the political ones. For instance, most people have deeply held beliefs on how the government should or should not maintain the economy of a country. While some advocate for government interventions in the economy, some view such interventions as harmful in the long run and for everyone in the economy. This is respectively the right and the left of the economic beliefs.
The other beliefs fall into the technological sphere. For as long has man has existed, technology has always been a factor in his/her life. Technology varies from humankind learning how to make fire for his/her warmth and cooking to the current advanced space technology. According to some people, while modern technology is useful, it is also harmful. The belief about the harmfulness stems from issues such as harmful military technology such as nuclear weapons, and other issues such as environmental degradation due to manufacturing technology. However, some other people view the technology as inevitable part of human progress noting the increase in human interaction through transport and communication technology which has also fostered human understating and peace. Moreover, some will point towards the lives that better medical technology has saved.
Lastly, there are social beliefs. These form the basis of the society one resides. In some cases, social beliefs coincide with political beliefs. For instance, some people are socially conservative and thus believe in the preservation of the culture their community. If these people get political power, they usually institute policies which are conservative either religiously, or broadly socially. For instance, in the US, socially conservative politicians are usually against socially liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights and they attempt to pass laws that reflect their social views. On the other hand, socially conservative people support the progress of the society and individuals on a myriad of issues such gay marriage and abortion rights for women. Consequently, when socially liberal politicians are in power, for instance being a majority in the Congress, laws and policies of the country will tend towards the upholding of liberal values in the society.
Lastly, attitude refers to the way a person reacts to issues and circumstances, and it is largely a component of behavioral traits. Unlike values, attitude is easier to note and relatively easy for one to form and mold in individuals. The reaction may be positive or negative depending on the individual and the issue at hand. Among the three, attitude is most personal of them and differs from person to another. Attitude depends on the values and beliefs that one holds true. Consequently, one is adept to react towards issues in a way that is constant extrapolates his values and beliefs. However, in some cases, one may fail to react in accordance with his beliefs and the values he/she holds. Such cases where one’s attitude fails to match his/her values and beliefs include cases where one aims to please, one is under social coercion or pressure, seeks the most convention way out of a position, and the psychological stressors. In such situations, one’s reaction towards an issue is stayed from his/her beliefs and values.
The attitude of any individual towards something can be measured. One can do the measurement using the explicit measure or using implicit measure. However, one has to note that like any psychological trait, measuring attitude can be arbitrary. The explicit measures are more easily observable and relay on issues such as the self-reporting of the subjects, or behaviors that the scientist can easily observe. In most of the cases, the explicit measures involve two opposite measure values such as good contrasted with bad and favorable contrasted with unfavorable. As it is apparent, in this case, the scale relies on the duality of the measurement with the belief that there is no middle ground between the two dual values on the scale.
The implicit measures operate on the issue that they automatically cannot be directed by either the subjected or the person doing the exercise. Consequently, they are taken to have more inherent reliability than explicit measures as some of the explicit measures such as self-reports can be subjective, and that socialization can lead to less explicit behaviors on certain issues such as prejudice. For instance, while some people may have racial prejudices, the fact that the society abhors such beliefs may mean that the person never exhibits such kinds of an attitude. Consequently, implicit tests take care of such attitudes that one may wish to exhibit, or the ones lodged into the subconscious but which they do not know if they hold.
Example to Differentiate the Three
Max is brought up by fervent religious parents. From an early age, the parents teach the child how religion can make her a better being and that God punishes those who do wrong like stealing or disrespecting their elders. “God exists and punished those who do wrong” is the belief in this case. The fact that some people may consider the belief in the existence of God, far less the belief that he might punish people, to be irrational does not matter in this case.
The religious background will also help the Max develop in her value system. Knowing that God is likely to punish people who do what is not right is likely to make her be an honest individual and will thus desist from swindling others and also develop other values such as empathy and compassion. In such a case, when the now Max notices fellow employee steal from the company her belief and values will create a confluence and he will try to influence his/her fellow employee not to steal. Moreover, in a case of an investigation, Max’s will be honest about what she saw as her belief her fellow employee do. In this case, her attitude, the reaction towards this event will mean that she tells the truth.
The essay sought to show the difference between values, beliefs, and attitude through definitions and example. As it is apparent, the three while closely related refer to different things. Values refer to standards and principles an individual or a society lives by. These can be moral, ethical or religious values. On the other hand, beliefs relate to the deeply held belief that something is true regardless of whether to might seem irrational or illogical to others. These include political beliefs, social, economic and technological beliefs. Some of these categories also intersect. Lastly, attitude refers to the way a person reacts to people, issues, and circumstances. Attitude is as a result of the confluence of values and beliefs. However, due to a myriad of factors, sometimes people do to react according to theory belief system and values. While attitude can be measured using the implicit and explicit elements, the implicit factors are more reliable as they are not prone to the subject's manipulation.