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PSY426H1 Lecture Notes - Cognitive Dissonance, Motivated Reasoning, Socalled

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Jason Plaks

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The case for motivated reasoning
reasoning driven by accuracy goals
this theory suggests that when people are motivated to be accurate, they expend more cognitive
effort on issue-related reasoning, attend to relevant information more carefully, and process it
more deeply, often using more complex rules.
Notion of satisficing (Simon, 1957) – when decision makers form aspirations as to how food an
alternative they should find and terminate their search for alternative as soon as one is found
that meets their level (*check accountability variable
Stigler suggests that search strategies have costs that are weighed against their benefits
Kruglanski and freund study showed – subjects motivated to be accurate (because they expected
to be evaluated, expected to justify their judgments, expected their judgments to be made
public, or expected their evaluations to affect the evaluated person's life) showed less of a
primacy effect in impression formation, less tendency to use ethnic stereotypes in their
evaluations of essay quality and less anchoring when making probability judgements.
Another study showed that subjects motivated to be accurate (because they were expected to
justify their beliefs) were less susceptible to fundamental attribution error, made less extreme
dispositional attributions about a target person who had little choice in a behaviour but not
when the person had a high degree of choice in a behaviour
underlying message of studies – many biases and errors occur because of hasty reasoning,
therefore eliminating these biases indicates more careful thinking
evidence supports that deeper processing occurs because of need for accuracy (that affect the
initial encoding and processing of info, )rather than self presentational pressures
several biases are weakened and reasoning increases when need for accuracy increases
Reasoning driven by directional goals
Mechanisms for motivated directional bias
people do not seem to be at liberty to conclude whatever they want to conclude merely because
they want to,
it is suggested that people motivated to arrive at a particular conclusion attempt to be rational
and to construct a justification of their desired conclusion that would persuade a dispassionate
a desired conclusion is drawn up only if their evidence necessary to support it is brought up –
maintaining an illusion of objectivity
illusion of objectivity – people believing that they are not being biased by their goals, that they
are accessing only a subset of relevant knowledge, that they would probably access different
beliefs and rules in the presence of different directional goals that they might even be capable of
justifying the opposite conclusions on different occasions
the biasing role of goals is constrained by one's ability to construct a justification for the desired
conclusion: people will believe what they want to believe only to the extent that reason permits
the proposed mechanisms are based on the assumption that directional goals may influence
which beliefs and rules are accessed and applied on a given occasion
-- evidence supports the idea that people access different beliefs and rules on different
occasions: they endorse different attitudes, express different self concepts, make different social
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