We attribute positive characteristics to attractive people
Attractive people are judged to be smart, happy, well adjusted, socially skilled, confident, & assertive -- though also vain.
Is the stereotype accurate?
• Good-looking people do have more friends, better social
skills, better jobs, and a more active sex life.
• But beauty is not related to objective measures of intelligence,
personality, adjustment, or self-esteem.
The beautiful is good assumption can become self-fulfilling in relationships
This theory tries to predict how satisfied and committed
people will be towards their relationships and, hence, how
stable relationships will be.
"Exchange" means that people calculate costs and benefits.
Calculate Costs and Benefits
Are there generally more positives than negatives?
For example, they might have a temper, but are very kind and funny.
Compare difference in costs and benefits to a relevant
comparison level (usually past relationships)
Do you think you deserve better than what you are getting?
Did you have a prior relationship that no one else could live
Did you just get out of a bad relationship, and anyone seems better?
Do you have low esteem, and don't expect much?
Benefits - Costs - Comparison Level = Overall Level of
However, other factors must be considered to predict commitment to a relationship...
Factor in perceptions of viable alternatives.
Do you feel like this is the only person who would have you?
Do you feel like you have 5 good alternatives out there?
The more alternatives, the less committed.
Factor in Level of Investment
The more you have invested in the relationship, the higher
commitment will be.
E.g., time, money, children, emotional resources, pain and
Overall Satisfaction + Investment - Alternatives =
Commitment is like a behavioral intention to continue the
The higher the commitment, the more stable relationships
will tend to be.
Counterattitudinal advocacy - stating an opinion or attitude
that runs counter to one's private belief or attitude
(Experience Cognitive Dissonance)
External justification - a reason or an explanation for
dissonant personal behavior that resides outside the
individual (e.g., reward or punishment) yes, move directly to step 5 (no attitude/behavior change needed) Attitude/behavior doesn't change!.
• If no, insufficient justification
Internal justification - the reduction of dissonance by changing something about oneself (e.g., attitude or behavior)
• Forced to change attitude/behavior
FESTINGER & CARLSMITH (1959) - BORING TASK STUDY
Participants were induced to lie to another student about the task
• Say the boring task is interesting
Agreed to do so for $1 or $20
Results - how boring was the task?
• $20 - said the task was boring, did not change their attitude (had external justification)
• $1 - said the task was interesting, changed their attitude
ELLIOT ARONSON & COLLEAGUES (1991, 1994)
Can this paradigm change behavior in the real world?
Participants (college students) were asked to compose a
speech describing dangers of AIDS and advocating condom use
• Group 1 - composed the arguments
• Group 2 - composed the arguments and read them in front of va video camera (to be watched later by high school students)
In addition, half of the participants from each group were
reminded of their own failure to use condoms
• 4 groups total...
1. Hypocrisy - composed arguments & read in front of
camera, reminded of own failures (highest)
2. Commitment-only - composed arguments & read in front
of camera (3)
3. Mindful-only - composed arguments, reminded of own
4. Information-only - composed arguments (lowest)
Definition - the dissonance aroused when individuals lack
sufficient external justification for having resisted a desired
activity or object, usually resulting in individuals' devaluing
the forbidden activity or object
Similar to insufficient justification, but here we are talking
about insufficient punishment instead of insufficient reward
Harsh punishments teach us to avoid getting caught
But, insufficient (mild) punishment induces dissonance
• "Only a mild punishment? Why am I not doing this ction?"
Dissonance reduction - devaluing the forbidden activity or
• "I am not doing it, but I would only receive a mild punishment if I did. I must not really want to do it after all!"
ARONSON & CARLSMITH (1963) - FORBIDDEN TOY STUDY
Children were asked to rate attractiveness of several toys
Experimenter chose a toy the child really liked and told the child they were not allowed to play with it
Children were threatened with mild or severe punishment (random assignment to condition)
Experimenter left the room for a few minutes
Experimenter returned and asked children to rate
None of the children played with the forbidden toy while the
experimenter was gone
But, they found a difference between the groups
If children were threatened with severe punishment, attitudes did not change (still liked the toy the same or more)
If children were threatened with mild punishment, attitudes
toward the toy changed (liked the toy less)
• Insufficient punishment!
• "I did not play with the toy, but the punishment wouldn't have been that bad. I must not really like the toy."
ZIMBARDO ET AL. (1965) - GRASSHOPPER STUDY
Army reservists were asked to eat fried grasshoppers
Asked by a stern, unpleasant officer or a well-liked, pleasant one
• Stern officer - liked grasshoppers better
• Lacked external justification, had to change attitude
• Pleasant officer - liked grasshoppers less
• Had external justification, did it to please the officer, no attitude change.
Good Deeds: We like people not for the favors they have done us but for the favors we have done them
Ben Franklin used this strategy to manipulate a political rival to become a friend by asking him for favors
"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged" (Franklin, 1868/1900).
Bad Deeds: "There's nothing people can't contrive to praise or condemn and find justification for doing so." -Moliere, The Misanthrope
If we harm someone, this induces dissonance between our
action and our self-concept as a decent person.
To resolve this dissonance, we may derogate our victim.
JECKER & LANDY (1969)
Students participated in an intellectual contest that enabled
them to win a substantial sum of money
• Experimenter asked them to return money as favor to
experimenter (liked most)
• Secretary asked them to return money as favor to psychology department
• Not asked to return money (control group) (liked least)
Participants were then given an opportunity to rate the
There are many examples of this in the real world:
• Holocaust - economic struggles, blame the Jews, see Jews as less than human
• Vietnam War - "those aren't people; those are ietnamese"
• Abu Ghraib - fear of terrorism, dehumanization, unfair
treatment of prisoners (torture)
How do you think terrorists justify their behavior?
• Do they see Americans as less than human?
• Religious struggles, struggle for power, they think we are in the way, easiest thing to do is dehumanize Americans, Israelis
DAVIS & JONES (1960)
Induced students to insult a confederate to his face
After doing so (but not before), they found him less attractive
Implications - once we engage in a negative act, we will
attempt to rationalize our behavior (e.g., Vietnam War - My
Lai massacre of innocent civilians)
BERSHEID, BOYE, & WALSTER (1968)
Had participants deliver a shock to a confederate who would or would not have a chance to retaliate
Only those "victims" who could not retaliate were derogated
Implications - prisoners can't retaliate, more likely to be
derogated/dehumanized (e.g., Abu Ghraib)