S.P. Ch. 5
Terms in this set (18)
Explain the Cognitive Dissonance Theory as according to Festinger, 1957
Cognitive Dissonance: A feeling of discomfort caused by holding discrepant attitudes/beliefs or by behaving in a way that is discrepant with one's attitudes/beliefs
Produces a drive or motivation to reduce the dissonance
Example: smoking even though you know that it's unhealthy
What do people do to reduce dissonance?
Change the behavior
Change the perception of the behavior
Change the cognition (attitude/belief)
Add new consonant cognitions
Minimize the importance of the discrepancy
Minimize the perception of the amount of choice that you had
Examples of Dissonance Reduction
Imagine you've been convinced by your doctor to lose some weight. You begin a new low-calorie diet, but one night you devour an entire bag of Hershey's kisses. This creates dissonance!
Change the behavior: I won't eat chocolate ever again.
Change your perception of the behavior: I hardly ever eat chocolate.
Change your cognition: I don't really nee to be on a diet. I'm not overweight.
Add consonant cognitions: Chocolate is healthy! It has antioxidants!
Minimize the importance of the discrepancy: I don't care if I'm overweight
Reduce perceived choice: I had to eat it--the chocolate was a gift!
List some situations that arouse cognitive dissonance
Decision-making (post-decision dissonance)
Justification of effort
Explain why Counter-attitudinal Behavior occurs
Sometimes people say or do something they don't actually agree with. Counter-attitudinal advocacy = stating an opinion or attitude that is counter to one's private attitude
There may or may not be a compelling external reason for why we do this. External justification = a reason for dissonant behavior that resides outside the individual
Does counter-attitudinal behavior always produce dissonance and lead to attitude change?
Certain conditions must be met for a situation involving "forced compliance" to lead to cognitive dissonance
Person believes he/she freely chose to engage in the behavior
Person believes the behavior leads to unwanted consequences
Discrepancy implicates the person's self-concept
The presence of arousal is key
For attitude change to occur (following counter-attitudinal behavior), people must experience uncomfortable arousal
The recognition and labeling of that arousal is also important
People don't change their attitudes when they can "misattribute" the arousal to another source
Dissonance aroused after making a decision
Why do decisions produce dissonance?
Both options tend to have positive and negative qualities
You know that the option you chose has some negatives, and the option you didn't choose has some positives dissonance
How do we reduce post-decision dissonance?
enhance the attractiveness of the chosen alternative (play up the positives, minimize the negatives)
devalue the rejected alternative (play up the negatives, minimize the positives)
Strengthen our confidence in our initial attitude or choice
Do all decisions produce dissonance?
Importance: Important decisions produce greater dissonance
Permanence / Irrevocability: Decisions that are harder to un-do produce greater dissonance
Explain Justification of Effort
People are generally motivated to work hard for things they like
What if you work really hard and find out you don't like what you've worked hard for?
Tendency for people to reduce cognitive dissonance by increasing their liking for something they have worked hard to attain
Aronson & Mills (1959)
Female Ps joined a discussion group on the psychology of sex
IV: Screening process
None (control group)
Allowed to listen to a boring group discussion
DV: Asked how much they liked the discussion group/ severely boring group said they liked it more than the other groups (justification)
Explain the concept of insufficient punishment
People tend to assume that severe punishments are more effective than mild punishments
Perhaps in the immediate context
What about the long-term?
When people change their behavior because of a mild punishment, they experience dissonance
Lack of external justification for not doing what they want to be doing
Explain the situation of insufficient punishment with Freedman (1965) study
Children were asked to rate their liking of 5 toys
They were then told they could not play with one of the toys (the most desirable one)
IV 1: low vs. high threat of punishment
IV 2: left alone with toy vs. not left alone with toy
DV 1: second rating of the toys
DV 2: playing with the forbidden toy (during a second session)
Do people with low or high self-esteem experience greater dissonance?
Aronson: people with low SE are accustomed to inconsistency--> less dissonance
Steele: people with low SE have fewer alternative dimensions to rely on for self-affirmation--> greater dissonance
Explain Gibbons et al research on self-esteem and dissonance
Longitudinal study of people participating in a smoking cessation program
Relapse should produce dissonance
Examined the effect of relapse on risk perceptions and commitment to quitting
Is the change greater for high or low self-esteem participants?
Self-esteem was not related to risk perceptions at Time 1
6 months later, relapsers lowered risk perceptions, but abstainers did not
Especially the relapsers with high self-esteem
High self-esteem relapsers also had greater decline in their commitment to quitting
Dissonance in summary
Dissonance can be aroused by several different situations/events
Inconsistency doesn't always lead to dissonance, but when it does, people have flexibility in how they reduce that dissonance
Attitude change seems to be the primary method
What were the results of Festinger and Carlsmith's (1959) study?
The results show that people who are required to state something (X) contrary to their true beliefs and opinions will most likely change that original opinion to become more consistent with the discussion of the subject of X.
What did Regan and Kilduff (1988) find in their study on cognitive dissonance?
that people were more confident in the presidential candidate that they supported after the actual act of voting for the candidate than before.
What did Gibbons et al (1997) find in the study about self-esteem and cognitive dissonance?
A person with low self-esteem (as compared to someone with high self-esteem) is more likely to react to dissonance because he/she is accustomed to more internal inconsistencies of the self.