PSYCH253 Lecture Notes - Cognitive Dissonance, When Prophecy Fails, Gold Bar

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COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY
Cognitive dissonance is aroused whenever someone holds two cognitions that are psychologically
inconsistent.
I smoke vs. smoke is going to kill me
You need to resolve the dissonance Either “Smoking is not bad after all” or “I’ll quit smoking”
Festinger, 1957 How can someone continue to smoke when he knows smoking is bad?
Early exploration into Dissonance
1. When prophecy fails
A woman said that she talked to aliens and the aliens will destroy the world, but they wanted to
save a few people who were their followers. The people who joined this cult, sold everything
they have and prepared for the end of the world.
Great example of Cognitive Dissonance you sell everything you own and preparing for the end
of the world
How to resolve: Either “They have wrong data” or “Aliens were so impress to the devotion of
these people so they did what the aliens told them. Because of these, the aliens saved the
world.”
2. Brehm, 1956- Free Choice Paradigm
Had a bunch of people, home makers, there is a toaster and a blender and asked the Ps abt their
choice. Before they were given the choice, they rated them on a bunch of dimensions.
The Rs offered them the blender and toaster thought those were not the ones being looked for.
The Ps will pick one and take it home.
People felt better after they chose the ones they don’t need. “this toaster is perfect!”
The thing they chose was rated higher while the thing they don’t choose rated lower.
Predicted that the dissonance is everything positive and negative about what you didn’t
choose is dissonance of your choice.
Whenever you make a choice, you’ll make yourself believe that it is a good choice.
3. Festinger and Carlsmith - The free choice paradigm became force compliance paradigm
Control experiment rated a boring experiment
Ask the Ps be the confederate, and will tell the other Ps that the experiment was interesting
though it is boring. Hence, will pay you 1 dollar or 20 dollars.
You know it’s boring like hell, so how will you tell the others it’s fun and exciting?
Resolve: “you’re going to agree with the statement more if you were rewarded by saying the
statement.” Or “if you’re paid a little money for it, you’ll agree to do it less.
Results: 1 dollar lie Ps under this condition changed their attitudes 9they rated the experiment
high); 20 dollar lie- Ps under this condition didn’t change their attitude (rated the experiment
low)
Rationalization: acting inconsistently in one’s belief + without a good reason for doing so =
dissonance ( to reduce dissonance, one’s belief will change.
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Document Summary

Cognitive dissonance is aroused whenever someone holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent. I smoke vs. smoke is going to kill me. You need to resolve the dissonance either smoking is not bad after all or i"ll quit smoking . Early exploration into dissonance: when prophecy fails. A woman said that she talked to aliens and the aliens will destroy the world, but they wanted to save a few people who were their followers. The people who joined this cult, sold everything they have and prepared for the end of the world. Great example of cognitive dissonance you sell everything you own and preparing for the end of the world. How to resolve: either they have wrong data or aliens were so impress to the devotion of these people so they did what the aliens told them. Because of these, the aliens saved the world. : brehm, 1956- free choice paradigm.

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