PSYC241 Chapter 6: Need to Justify our Actions

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PSYC241 – Chapter 6: The Need Justify Our Actions
Maintaining a Stable, Positive Self-Image
- Most of us have moderate to high self esteem. But maintaining this isn’t always
easy
The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance
-Cognitive Dissonance: a drive/feeling of discomfort, caused by performing an
action that is discrepant form ones customary, typically positive self-conception
(eg. If we have acted in ways that are irrational, immortal or stupid)
- Dissonance is most powerful when people behave in ways that threaten their self-
esteem
- We try to avoid thinking about thoughts that create dissonance because they lead
to discomfort
- Dissonance always creates discomfort, and we always try to reduce that
discomfort. We can do this in 3 ways:
oChanging our behaviour to bring it in line with the dissonant condition
oAttempting to justify our behaviour through changing one of the dissonant
cognitions
oAttempting to justify our behaviour by adding new cognitions
- We usually distort information in a way that fits our preconceived notions
Why we Overestimate the Pain of Disappointment
-Impact bias: the tendency to overestimate the intensity and duration of our
emotional reactions to future negative events
oOccurs because we don’t realize that dissonance reduction occurs
unconsciously
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
- Every time we make a decision, we experience dissonance
-Distorting our Likes and Dislikes:
oPostdecision Dissonance: dissonance is aroused after making a decision.
This is typically reduced by enhancing the attractiveness of the chosen
alternative and devaluating the rejected alternatives
-The Permanence of the Decision:
oThe more permanent the decision, the greater the need to reduce
dissonance
oFinality of decisions makes people happier
-Creating the Illusion of Irrevocability:
oLowballing: strategy whereby salesperson induces a customer to agree to
purchase a product at a very low cost, subsequently claims it was an error,
and then raises the price; frequently, the customer will agree to make the
purchase at the inflated price
-The Decision to Behave Immorally:
oDissonance reduction following a difficult moral decision can cause
people to behave either more or less ethically in the future
-How Dissonance Affects Personal Values:
oAfter you make a decision to reduce your dissonance, your beliefs/values
may be altered
Dissonance, the Brain, and Evolution
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