We all have that person in our lives -- the one who finds something to dislike in every single circumstance. And we also all know someone who is inclined to think positively of everything, finding the silver lining in any situation.
Now, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have pinpointed what exactly it is that makes a person like this: something called "dispositional attitude."
"The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator," the researchers wrote in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study.
When a person has a dispositional attitude, he or she is strongly inclined to either like or dislike things. The researchers came up with a scale to decipher a person's dispositional attitude, which involved having study participants share their attitudes toward a bunch of subjects with seemingly no connections (such as architecture, soccer and cold showers). By analyzing the responses, researchers deduced who was more likely to dislike or like things. Then, they looked at how the people with positive dispositional attitudes or negative dispositional attitudes viewed things.
Ultimately, the researchers found that sometimes attitudes toward things don't just hinge on the thing itself -- they might have more to do with the person's general attitude.