Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Day 1 March 5 th
Relationship between behaviour and attitude change
How they interact
Change Through Behaviour
Biased scanning: behaviour affects attitudes by biasing our selection and processing of information.
Greenwald: counterattitudinal essay leads writers to see opposing points as more valid.
Individuals had to evaluate the arguments’ validity
Compared to students who wrote attitudinal essays
Found that those preparing to write counterattitudinal essays, rated the arguments more positively.
Albarracin & Wyer: false feedback about response to ‘subliminal’ statements biases thoughts towards
Told subjects that they were being exposed to subliminal arguments.
Told that their responses to the subliminal arguments were either positive or negative.
Those told their responses were positive, showed more positive attitudes towards the idea when accessed
Reward and incentives: behaviour affects attitudes because of its positive or negative
Reinforcement of a behaviour, attitude associated with the behaviour are increased in intensity.
Janis & Gilmore: counterattitudinal essay writers change only if essay to be used for public welfare,
not to sell books.
More math and science classes before graduation.
Some individuals told the essay would be used for public education information or for selling books. Rewarded behaviour changed attitudes.
Kelman: counterattitudinal essay writers change only if prizes for best are scarce.
Some told that all would get a prize, others were told that only the top 5 would get them.
Greater positive attitude with scarce prizes.
SelfPerception Theory: we develop our attitudes by drawing inferences about them from our
behaviour towards attitude objects.
Use of behaviour to form attitudes
“I donate to charity, therefore I must have a positive attitude towards them.”
Cognitive consistency: cognitive dissonance; we modify our attitudes to be consistent with our
beliefs and our behaviour.
We want our behaviour to be consistent with our attitudes.
Can’t change the behaviour we have already performed but can change the attitude▯ change the attitude to
Heider’s Balance Theory
Says that we can construe many situations as a triad of elements:
Between each 3 elements, whatever they are, there are valenced links between them.
+= positive, like; = negative, dislike▯ indicate valence with a positive or negative sign and by colour.
E.g P1 could be the audience (you), P2 the source and P3 the message.
Someone you like (+ between P1 and P2), delivers a message that they agree with (+ btwn P2 & P3), but
you disagree with the message ( between P1 & P3).
This is considered to be an unbalanced triad
The triad being unbalanced could be determined by you OR by multiplying the signs of the links.
If the product of the triad is + then it is balanced, if the product is – then its unbalanced.
Three ways to make the triad balanced: Determine that the source is full of crap; someone I don’t like supports something that I disagree with.
Determines that the source does not really believe what they are saying; example is a celebrity endorser.
More usual: change the link between you and the message; I like this person so maybe their message is
According to Heider, the weakest link will change; the links between each component may have
E.g link between you and source is +5, link between source and message is +9, dislike of the message is
In this circumstance the weakest link is between you and the message and so it changes in the opposite
Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory (1957)
We strive to maintain consistency between our attitudes and between attitudes and behaviours.
We experience consonance when they are consistent.
We may experience inconsistency ▯ dissonance; a bad feeling that we are motivated to eliminate.
Inconsistency may occur when:
Making decisions> maybe we made the wrong decision
Unexpected outcomes> favourite hockey team did not make the playoffs when we expected them to.
Getting new information> behaviour may turn out to be detrimental when we thought it was good.
Among beliefs> something may taste good but are bad.
Between beliefs and behaviours> believe cheating is wrong but we cheat on a test because we didn’t study
Strength of the motive of dissonance depends on:
Importance of the inconsistency> low importance, low dissonance experienced.
Proportion of inconsistent elements> equal positive and negative qualities towards something= more
Dissonance Reduction: activities we perform to reduce this unpleasant feeling. Add consistent cognitive elements> uncovering positive cognitions to reduce the ratio of positive to
Change behavioural context> put ourselves in a situation that makes the dissonance behaviour make
Change perception of behavioural context
Add info that makes inconsistent cognitions less inconsistent
Change dissonant behaviour> stop behaviour that disagrees with attitudes (doesn’t completely reduce
Last resort: change inconsistent cognitions (attitudes). Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Day 2 March 7 th
Cognitive Consistency Theories> one of them being Cognitive Dissonance Theory.
Justification: justify our behaviour, by adding new cognitions, to reduce the dissonance and
Studies will be tested by asking to link the description of the experiment with the
results of the test.
Festinger & Carlsmith (1959)
Forced Compliance technique used in this experiment
Study with undergraduates, supposedly the experiment is about the role of expectations on work effort,
Complete a boring task> turning a series of spools
Told most participants that the next participant coming in needs to be given an expectation about the
Experimental: Say to the participant that the test was interesting, challenging, fun (agreed to lie about the
Control: said nothing about the experiment
Half of the liars were given $1 and the other half were given $20
Manipulation of Justification
Attitudes about the Task varied depending on the amount of money
Paid $20: high justification; paid a lot of money to lie
Paid $1: low justification; paid very little but lied anyways
Prediction: that those paid only $1 will go through more dissonance and change their attitude about the task
to match their behaviour.
Evaluation: Task Attitude (5 to +5)
Control: 0.45 (baseline; somewhat boring, useless).
$1: +1.35 (attitude changed in a positive direction) Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
$20: 0.05 (higher than the control but not by a whole lot).
Should have seen the opposite according to the Incentive theory because of the belief that being
awarded more for the behaviour ($20) would increase their liking for the task.
Insufficient justification paradigm
Undergraduates had to write about an event that occurred on campus not that long before this experiment;
included inappropriate behaviour by the police.
Had to write a counterattitudinal essay (inconsistent with their beliefs).
Experimental: paid $0.50, $1, $5 or $10 to write the essay
Manipulation of Justification
High numbers= disagree with the police actions
Paid the least, changed their attitude the most towards a less negative attitude about the police actions.
Paid $0.50= 50
Paid $1= 65
Paid $5= 85
Paid $10= 110
Aronson & Carlson (1963)
Manipulation of the amount of Justification; in this study done with children, the justification is the amount of
Children asked to refrain from playing with the favoured toy
Asked to rank the different toys presented to them Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Researcher leaves the room and takes the 2 favourite toy with them.
Half of the participants are told that the experimenter will be very annoyed if they play with the favoured toy.
Other half of the participants were told that they would be angry if the child plays with the toy.
Threat varies between the children: mild (annoyed) or severe (angry); none of the children played with the
Children again asked to rank the toys; different justifications for why the children did not play with the
Severe= high justification, low dissonance
Mild= low justification, high dissonance
Results: ranking from 18 of the favoured toy
Mild: drops 6 rankings; changed attitude by saying that the toy was really not that great to play with.
Severe: increased by 2 rankings; showed NO need to decrease the value of the favoured toy.
Aronson & Mills (1959)
Female undergraduates asked to join a discussion group about sex.
Experimental: told that because the topic is sensitive, we must tense you to see that you can contribute to
Mild initiation: recite 1012 words related to sexuality; mild embarrassment, were not that bad.
Severe initiation: asked to read 1012 words that are really high anxiety producing and read two very
Control: join the group immediately
Listen to a boring discussion (recording), told that they will have to wait until next week to join in on the
Asked to rate how interesting the discussion is; high number= more interesting.
Manipulation of the amount of dissonance
More dissonance occurred in the females that went through the severe initiation to get into a boring
discussion. Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Task Attitude: 0 to +224
Severe: 195; rates the discussion significantly more interesting than the other two groups.
Free Choice Compliance
University women shown & rate 8 consumer items, 8point scale.
Rank on asthetic appeal, desirability, usefulness
Experimental: Participant allowed to choose the appliance that they get, between the 2 , 3 and 4 ranked
on their list.
High dissonance little difference in ranking between the 3
Experimental: choose between the 2 and 6 rated items
Low dissonance one given up is ranked so much lower
Control: given a gift, no choice
Second Rating: PostChoice Dissonance; after choosing between two equal alternatives, we down
grade the option that we didn’t choose and upgrade our choice.
Gift: same ranking before and after given the item
High dissonance: chosen= 6.00, not chosen= 5.00
Low dissonance: chosen= 6.00, not chosen= 3.50
High dissonance: chosen= 6.35, not chosen= 4.50
Bigger change in rating, attempts to reduce dissonance
Low dissonance: chosen= 6.25, not chosen= 3.25
Slight change in rankings Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Day 3 March 11 h Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Dissonance Revised and Revived
Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory (1957)
Inconsistency of cognitions> try to maintain consistency among our attitudes and between attitudes and
Inconsistency= arousal and discomfort= dissonance
Drive/tendency to reduce this feeling of dissonance; done through justification of our behaviour or changing
What causes Dissonance?
What is necessary in the situation for dissonance to occur?
Behaviour must have lead to Aversive Consequences
Choice/Commitment to Behaviour (more choice= more commitment= more dissonance).
The Self, Dissonance and Attitude Change> another line of research to find alternative explanations for the
result of the studies
Attribution Theory> version of this theory called SelfPerception Theory (a mechanism other than
SelfAffirmation Theory, SelfConsistency, SelfStandards Model.
What is the real Motivation behind these results?
Do we really experience higher levels of arousal from these situations?
Is reducing this arousal the bases for changing our attitudes?
New Look Theory (tries to bring together these various modifications into a single theory).
Refinements in Dissonance Theory Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Responsibility and commitment:
Dissonance only when individual feels responsible for their behaviour> only then will these dissonance
Dissonance only when action produces aversive outcome (no harm, no foul= no dissonance).
If nobody has been hindered, mislead= your behaviour will not lead to dissonance.
Cooper & Worchel (1970)> Aversive Consequences
Boring task study> asked to tell an incoming participant that the task was interesting (dissonance
What if the lie has no negative consequences to the new participant?
Degree of Incentive: ½ hour or 1 hour credit given for lying
Convinced vs Non Convinced (individual decided not to participate in the experiment anyways; no
Attitude Change was higher when the individual was convinced when given ½ credit compared to full hour
More dissonance needs to be reduced in the ½ credit than 1 hour credit when the participant was
In absence of negative consequence (non convinced), there was extremely low level of dissonance and it
did not change whether the liar was receiving a ½ hr credit or hour credit.
Higher justification in the 1 hour credit than the ½ hour credit, therefore there was higher dissonance in the
Calder et al. (1973)
Manipulated commitment/responsibility (the amount of choice in the situation) and aversive consequences
of the participants.
Low choice condition: tell the subject that the task is exciting, interesting and enjoyable.
High choice condition: tell the subject that the task is enjoyable, but emphasizes that the participant will
receive the credit even without lying to the new subject (have the choice to not do it). Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
High or Low incentive: 1 hour vs 2 hour credit
Consequences: lied to subject decided not to participate OR lied to subjects agreed to participate (giving up
useful study time).
Expect that dissonance will only occur in high choice and negative consequences to the lied to participant.
No dissonance should occur in all other situations.
Higher dissonance when incentives are high, the choice is low and there are high consequences.
High consequences themselves are not enough for dissonance
Typical dissonance result: High choice, low incentive, high consequences= higher dissonance than
Should not show any dissonance with Low consequences
Neither case show the usual dissonance results> closer to Reinforcement theory (no change in attitudes).
There are however, some circumstances when dissonance can occur even when
consequences are low.
Alternatives to Dissonance Theory
A version of Attribution Theory; answers how we attribute causes to the behaviours of others, why we think
people do what they do.
Situational attributions> do what the situation demands, things outside of themselves (school, church,
Dispositional attributions> things inside the person; personality, behaviour influenced by these.
We tend to think that high choice= dispositionality
Low incentives (rewards)= dispositionality
Disagreement with social norms= dispositionality
Fundamental Attribution error: behaviours are attributed to dispositional factors more than
SelfPerception Theory: we use our own behaviour to determine what attitudes we have towards a
particular object. Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Forming attitudes on the fly
Attribution theory towards our own behaviour
OverJustification effect: believe that we do not enjoy something as much as we thought when we
are paid to do something that we already liked.
Attribute the behaviour towards the incentives being presented for doing that particular activity.
Makes the same predictions as Dissonance Theory
Bem (1967): repeated Festinger & Carlsmith boring task
Participants listened to a description of the study, infer actors’ attitudes toward the task.
Replicated the results; predicted the liking> estimating attitude from behaviour.
Did not know the original attitude of the participants towards the task that they performed.
When they were aware of the lie subjects told about enjoying the task, they predicted the degree of liking
Does not show support for Attribution Theory
Cottrell et al (1974)
Free Choice paradigm> Gift or Choice
Based on well known finding that increased arousal increases the use of dominant
Similar to arousal effects on performance
Asked to read and pronounce Turkish words
Dominant response or Subordinate response
Choice (between 2 similar options) vs Gift
Shown fuzzy word on screen, asked which of the two words practiced is the one on the screen.
Ambiguous= dominant response
Choice vs Gift= increase arousal (dissonance)= dominant responses increase.
Increase in dominant responses after choosing which product to take home with them because of an
increase in arousal.
Increase in dominant responses in the gift condition as well. Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Day 4 March 14 h Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Commitment: Greater choice in the behaviour= high dissonance
Consequence: No consequence= no dissonance
Cottrell et al (1974)
Pronouncing a subordinate (practiced few times) or dominant (practiced many times) response.
Gift vs Choice> increase arousal (dissonance)= increase dominant responses.
If in fact, other dissonance studies involved heightened arousal, then we should expect to see an increase
in dominant responses in the choice condition.
Gift, Dominant= slightly lower than the choice condition
Choice, Dominant= highest in dominant responses
Zimbardo et al (1969)
Had undergraduates learn a list of words in the same order that they were presented on the list (serial
3 lists of words
2 list done under the shock condition (45V)
3 list learned under either the shock condition (45V) OR would learn the list under shock (20V)
Recorded number of trials needed to learn the lists
Low vs High dissonance conditions: Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
High= no purpose for experiencing the shock (45V)
Low= additional, important information for experiencing the shock (45V).
Expect to see that the shocks interfered with their learning
Progressively slower at learning from list 1 to list 2 and list 3
Learning improved from list 2 to list 3 in the HighModerate Shock conditions.
Low dissonance= same results as highhigh group
Belief is that this changes their attitude slightly towards the experiment (increase in arousal).
Less opportunity to go through dissonance
High dissonance= same pattern as the highmoderate group
Lowers arousal and allows them to learn better
Lowering dissonance has the same effect as