PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Attitude Change, Cognitive Dissonance

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PSYC 215 – Lecture #12: Attitude Change Following Behavior
· Attitude usually changes only when the person judges there is insufficient justification for their
· Become more positive about their task if there is insufficient justification for it
o Ex. Being paid a large sum of money for the task vs. being paid very little
· What is your attitude toward raising tuition fees at McGill?
· [Strongly opposed] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 [strongly in favor]
“Induced Compliance” Procedure:
· You are led to advocate an opinion different from your own
o ex. Write down arguments in support of ‘raising tuition at McGill’
· You come to shift your attitude in the direction of your behavior; moved away from their original
attitude and towards the behavior
· Attitude change comes when behavior is experienced as freely chosen, without any obviously
‘sufficient justification’
o So unlikely due to simply becoming aware of arguments to support the new
· How can we explain this attitude change?
1) Cognitive Consistency
· We want our thoughts and ideas to fit together to understand reality
· Cognitive dissonance theory
o Leon Festinger’s Original Theory
· People are motivated to maintain internal consistency (among beliefs, ideas, values, behaviors)
· If we have inconsistent ideas, it causes psychological tension
· Therefore we are motivated to resolve this inconsistency
· Inconsistent cognitions à psychological tension, discomfort, distress à motivation to resolve
o Ex. “I smoke” vs. “smoking causes cancer”
o Smokers find a way to find beliefs to resolve the inconsistency
o 40% of smokers doubted the first reports of cancer causing agents in cigarettes
· Sometimes behaviors are hard to stop, and its just easier to change our beliefs
o Ex. “I chose to write in favor of raising tuition” vs. “I do not believe in raising tuition”
2) Self-Justification
· (Aronson): people have a drive to maintain, protect, and enhance self-esteem
· Inconsistent cognitions only provoke strong emotions if they are important
· Behaving inconsistent with one’s attitude threatens positive image of self
o Ex. I”I believe one thing but acted very differently, therefore I am a hypocrite!”
· “Self-Justification: model of dissonance:
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