Lecture on February 28th: Persuasion

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Psychology & Brain Sciences
John Bickford

Social Psychology, Lecture on February 28th Persuasion 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: Techniques: 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 for cravings." 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 occasion." 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 (
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