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Attitude vs. Behavior: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
Attitude reflects one's feelings and beliefs towards something, whereas behavior is the actual manifestation of one's responses and actions towards situations and people.

Key Differences

Attitude often serves as an internal compass, dictating an individual's perspectives and approaches toward various aspects of life. Attitude represents the mental and emotional disposition one holds toward an entity, encompassing beliefs, feelings, values, and disposition. It acts as an internal lens through which people perceive and interpret the world around them. In comparison, behavior is not bound by internal dispositions and can often diverge from attitudes due to external factors, social norms, or specific contexts.
Behavior entails the observable actions, reactions, or conduct of an individual in response to stimuli or situations. Distinct from attitude, behavior doesn’t provide direct insight into internal sentiments or beliefs but showcases actual and overt responses, whether consistent or inconsistent with one’s attitude. Behavior can be studied and analyzed through observable phenomena, making it a measurable entity and distinctly external in comparison to the inherent nature of attitude.
Attitude remains hidden until expressed, either through verbal communication, non-verbal cues, or through behaviors that may reflect underlying beliefs and perspectives. Attitudes often influence decisions, shape interactions, and predict potential future behaviors, acting as a psychological construct that is inferred but not directly observable. Conversely, behavior can contradict attitude, as individuals might showcase certain behaviors under specific situations despite holding a differing internal stance, reflecting the multifaceted nature of human actions.
The complexity of deciphering attitude comes from its intrinsic and unobservable nature, often requiring inference from expressed opinions or observed behaviors. It’s subjective, residing within the individual and can be enduring unless a change in belief or perspective is incited. Behavior, however, can be adaptive and malleable, changing in various contexts and in response to different individuals or stimuli, illustrating its reactive and dynamic nature, which can independently occur from one’s attitudes.
While both attitude and behavior can influence each other, they can also operate independently, forming a complex interplay between internal cognitive processes and external social interactions. The dichotomy between the internal stability of attitude and the external, observable, and adaptable nature of behavior delineates their inherent differences. Moreover, understanding the relationship and distinction between the two permits a deeper understanding of human psychology, social interactions, and organizational dynamics.

Comparison Chart


Internal, mental and emotional disposition
Observable, physical and verbal actions


Not directly observable
Directly observable and measurable


Influences behavior but not always
Can be independent of attitude


Generally stable and enduring
Can change based on context and stimuli


May or may not dictate behavior
Not necessarily indicative of attitude

Attitude and Behavior Definitions


Attitude denotes a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.
Her positive attitude towards challenges is truly inspiring.


Behavior denotes the manner in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.
His polite behavior at the meeting impressed the clients.


Attitude signifies a mental position with regard to a fact or state.
His attitude towards money was influenced by his upbringing.


Behavior refers to the way in which an animal or person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus.
The scientist observed the behavior of ants when exposed to sugar.


Attitude can be an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event.
Her attitude towards the opposing team was noticeably negative.


Behavior can describe the way in which a machine or natural phenomenon works under specified circumstances.
The behavior of gas particles changes under pressure.


Attitude refers to a predisposition to respond in particular ways to certain stimuli or situations.
His attitude towards work affected his career progression.


Behavior represents the response of an individual or group at various times or under various circumstances.
Studying the behavior of shoppers helps marketers strategize better.


Attitude encompasses the emotional and cognitive evaluations that influence one’s actions.
A can-do attitude often opens doors to new opportunities.


Behavior can be understood as the manner of behaving or conducting oneself.
The teacher praised the student for his good behavior.


A manner of thinking, feeling, or behaving that reflects a state of mind or disposition
Has a positive attitude about work.
Kept a dignified attitude throughout the crisis.


The manner in which one acts or behaves.


The actions or reactions of a person or animal in response to external or internal stimuli.


What is attitude?

Attitude refers to a person’s mental and emotional disposition towards a person, object, or situation.

Can attitudes predict behavior?

Yes, attitudes often, but not always, predict behavior, especially when the attitude is strong.

Can behavior change attitude?

Yes, through processes like cognitive dissonance, behavior can influence changes in attitude.

What influences attitude formation?

Attitude is shaped by various factors, including experiences, social contexts, and individual personality.

How is ethical behavior developed?

Ethical behavior is shaped by a combination of individual morals, societal norms, and legal guidelines.

Can positive attitudes improve health?

Research suggests a correlation between positive attitudes and some health benefits, like stress management.

How does organizational behavior affect companies?

Organizational behavior impacts companies by influencing employee performance, satisfaction, and organizational culture.

How is behavior defined?

Behavior encompasses the observable actions or reactions of an individual or group in a given context.

What is an attitude scale?

An attitude scale measures the intensity and direction (positive/negative) of attitudes.

Is behavior always observable?

Typically yes, as behavior is defined by observable physical or verbal actions in response to stimuli.

How does attitude affect work performance?

Attitude influences work performance by impacting motivation, job satisfaction, and interpersonal relationships.

What affects behavior in a social context?

Behavior is influenced by factors like social norms, peer pressure, and situational contexts.

Can behavior be inconsistent with attitude?

Yes, behavior might not always align with attitude due to external pressures or specific contexts.

How does culture influence behavior?

Culture shapes behavior by establishing norms, values, and expectations within a society.

What is the difference between attitude and belief?

Attitude is a disposition towards something, while belief is an acceptance that something is true or exists.

Can behavior be conditioned?

Yes, behavior can be conditioned (learned) through various psychological processes, like reinforcement.

Is it possible to measure attitude?

Yes, through various tools like surveys, interviews, and observational methods, attitude can be measured indirectly.

Can attitudes be negative or positive?

Yes, attitudes can be either positive, negative, or neutral towards an entity.

How is aggressive behavior categorized?

Aggressive behavior is typically characterized by hostile, assertive, or vigorous actions.

How stable are attitudes over time?

While attitudes can be quite stable, they can change due to factors like persuasive communication or changes in beliefs.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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