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Pennsylvania State University
Nicholas Pearson

02/16/12 Chapter 6 – Cognitive Dissonance Cognitive Dissonance – To understand how people construe the world we need to examine two basic human motives – Leon Festinger's Original definition of dissonance – A drive or feeling of discomfort, caused by holding two or more inconsistent cognitions – Ex: you step out in the rain and you're not getting wet, so you try to figure it out – Asituation should be one way, but its happening another way – Aronson's Revision: Threat to self-esteem – Dissonance is caused by performing an action that is discrepant from one's (typically positive) self-concept – Ex: “I'm a good person, but I did something bad.” How to reduce dissonance – Change your behavior – Change your cognitions (“well, it's not that important.” – Add new cognitions (“just cause I don't know this certain thing, I still know a lot about that subject) – Smoking (They have knowledge that smoking is bad, but they still smoke anyway) – Voting – Recycling Classic Findings: Part 1 – Insufficient Justification (Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959) – People were asked to lie about a boring task for $20 ($150 nowadays) – Other people were given $1 to lie – $1 dollar people experienced dissonance because there wasn't a good enough reason for them to lie – They convinced themselves that the boring task actually was fun so there is no dissonance – Illusion of choice – Threats to self-esteem – Low external justification = high dissonance Insufficient Justification in Everyday Life
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