Social Psychology, Lecture on February 28th
Need for cognitive consistency,
Cognitive dissonance (Leon Festinger, 1957):
assumed we feel tension (dissonance) when two of our thoughts
(cognitions) are psychologically inconsistent. We change our thinking to
reduce this tension.
Festinger and Carlsmith (1959): Insufficient justification
-- participants perform very dull task, asked to lie to incoming participant and sat
that it was actually very interesting.
-- independent variable: $1.00 (dissonance) or $20.00 (no dissonance) reward
for lying, or control group (no reward, no lying).
-- dependent variable: reported enjoyment of task.
-- result: participants in the control group and $20 group rated the task as
boring. Participants paid $1, who had insufficient justification for lying, thought
the task was somewhat enjoyable.
Aronson and Carlsmith (1963):
Insufficient justification works for punishment as well as rewards.
Various ways to reduce dissonance:
Change your attitude - "I do not really need to be on a diet."
Change your perception of the behavior - "I hardly ate any ice cream."
Add consonant cognitions - "Ice cream is very nutritious/Successful diets allow
Minimize the importance of the conflict - "One cheat won't break my diet."
Reduce perceived choice - "I had no other choice; it was prepared for the
Why do people self-persuade?
-- cognitive dissonance theory is the same as reducing tension.
--- necessary preconditions.
--- behavior must be freely chosen. --- physiological arousal must occur (