Certain goals might be salient because they are chronically or temporarily accessible for some individuals. For example, the attitude object of an individual may be associated in his memory with a particular motive, causing the motive to be chronically accessible when the object is present. Alternatively, temporary features of the immediate situation may be associated in memory with a particular motive. For instance, the presence of credit card logos or money might activate utilitarian motivations to pursue wealth, and this motive might be particularly strong in a person who is surrounded by others wearing expensive clothing. These are all the influences of various attitudes on individuals.
Wiggins (1965) argued that personalities are forged by social roles and social interactions. Work roles and work role interactions occur later in our lives than do social roles and social role interactions, but many enter the world of work via part-time and temporary work in their early teens. (Brett & Drasgow, 2002, p. 8)
According to Brett & Drasgow "Attitudes are composed of affective, belief, and behaviour components. In some way, these elements coexisted as part of the attitude construct. Current thinking reconfigures this relationship. It appears more useful to say that attitudes are summary evaluations that are formed by affective experiences with the attitude object, beliefs about the object, and behaviours directed toward the object. Each of these former elements of attitude can be seen as a different piece of information that helps form the attitude. Attitude operations are consistent with this structure. Basic attitude measures ask respondents to place the attitude object along a scale of evaluation. That evaluation is the attitude". (Brett & Drasgow, 2002, p. 84)
Seminal theories of attitude function in context with organisational structure provide some clues about potentially influential motivations. Smith et al. (1956) suggested that attitudes could serve object-appraisal, social-adjustment, and externalisation functions. The object-appraisal function encompasses the ability of attitudes to summarise the positive and negative characteristics of objects in our environment. In other words, attitudes enable people to approach things that are beneficial for them and avoid things that are harmful to them. Similarly in an organisational setting, attitudes refer to the social-adjustment function, and are served by approaches that help us identify with well-regarded individuals and dissociate from disliked individuals. For example, people often like and purchase styles of clothing that are worn by celebrities. The externalisation function is served by attitudes that defend the self against internal conflict. For instance, a poor squash player might grow to dislike the game because it threatens his or her self-esteem.
The need for affect also predicts involvement in a real-life, emotion-inducing situation, even when the situation elicits negative emotions. For example, in one study, British participants were asked to complete an open-ended questionnaire assessing their cognitive, affective, and behavioural reactions to the death of Princess Diana, approximately three months following her death (Maio & Esses, 2001). Because the