PSY 306 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Cognitive Dissonance, Leon Festinger, Mirror Neuron

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Class 8: February 4: Attitudes and Consistency
What is an attitude?
Attitude: enduring response disposition with an affective,
cognitive, and behavioral component
Enduring: stable across time and situations
Disposition: predictive of behavior
Behavioral: we are aware of them and can accurately
self-report on them
Theories of Attitude
Formation and Attitude
Change
Expectancy-Value Theory
We consciously choose our attitudes
To do so, we weight the pros and cons of various
attitudes and pick the one that works best
Value x Expectancy = Attitude → Behavior
Most people don’t do this, it’s more of a normative
than a descriptive idea
Williams and Bargh, 2008, Telling more than we know
People rated someone with more interpersonal
warmth when that person asked them to hold a hot
drink rather than a cold one
Mere Exposure suggests that attitudes are more implicit than
explicit
People like things the more they are exposed to those
things
Learning Theory
Derived from the study of behavior
Associations
Link in memory between stimuli
Formed through repeated pairings
Ex: Romeo ← → Juliet
Reinforcement
Learn a response through reward
Ex: social rewards for expressing certain
opinions, subtle reinforcement for gender
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attitudes
Punishment
Learn NOT to perform certain behavior
through punishment
Ex: social punishment for other kinds of
opinions
Observation
Learning by watching others and repeating
Modeling “appropriate” or socially-
acceptable behavior
Role for “mirror neuron” system
Bandura’s Bobo Doll Study (Observation)
Children were more likely to hit a bobo doll if they
saw an adult hitting the doll earlier
Cognitive Consistency
When Prophecy Fails, Festinger et al. 1956
Marian Keech thought she received a message from
aliens saying Earth would be destroyed but her
followers would be saved
They ignored the press, but then when the destroying
of the Earth didn’t happen, they all of a sudden
wanted interviews and to spread the word of the
“saving of Earth”
Did they believe they were wrong? No, they believed
God was so impressed with their response that he
saved the world
Rationalization: explaining to ourselves how something
happened or why something occurred
Due to the need to feel (if not actually be) consistent
and authentic
Consistency Theory: Balance Theory
People want to be consistent especially when it comes to
their relationships with others
If we feel out of balance, then we are motivated to
restore the balance (interpersonal conflict)
Three elements: P (the person to analyse), O (the comparison
person, X (comparison thing, sometimes another person)
The goal is to understand the relationship between
each pair based on liking and belonging
There are four sets of information that are balanced
P + O, P + X, O + X
P - O, P - X, O + X
P - O, P + X, O - X
P + O, P - X, O -X
Example
My friend’s friend is my friend
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