PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Cognitive Dissonance, Leon Festinger, Elaboration Likelihood Model

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CHAPTER 12 SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
How Attitudes Guide Behavior
-Attitudes: our evaluations of objects, of events, or of ideas
-people develop negative attitudes about new objects more quickly than they develop positive attitudes
-Mere Exposure Effect: greater exposure to an item, and therefore greater familiarity with it, causes ppl to have more
positive attitudes about the item
Ppl prefer reversed photos of themselves b/c it corresponds to what they see when they look in the mirror
-attitudes can be conditioned:
e.g. advertisers use classical conditioning (attractive celebrity paired w/ a product to develop positive attitudes
about product);
operant conditioning also shapes attitudes (develop positive attitude towards studying after you are rewarded w/
good grades after studying)
-the stronger and more personally relevant the attitude, the more likely it will predict behavior, be consistent over time,
and be resistant to change
-Attitude Accessibility: the ease with which a person can retrieve memories related to an attitude; predicts behavior
consistent w/ the attitude easily activated attitudes are more stable, predictive of behavior and resistant to change
e.g. the more quickly you recall you like a course, the more likely you will attend lecture and read textbook
-Explicit Attitudes: those you know about; can report to other ppl
-Implicit Attitudes: influence feelings and behavior at an unconscious level; shape behavior w/o awareness
e.g. purchasing product endorsed by celebrity even though you have no conscious memory of having seen
celebrity advertise product
Implicit Association Test used to asses implicit attitudes: a reaction time test that can identify implicit attitudes;
measures how quickly we associate concepts/objects w/ positive or negative words
Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Leon Festinger 1957)
-sometimes attitudes may not guide behavior
-Cognitive Dissonance: an uncomfortable mental state due to conflicts between attitudes or between attitudes and
behavior (e.g. smoking even though you know it might kill you)
dissonance causes anxiety and tension and therefore motivates ppl to reduce the dissonance and relieve
displeasure by changing attitudes/behavior or rationalizing/trivializing the discrepancies
E.g. for American prison guards at Abu Ghraib, treatment of prisoners dissonant from their views on how ppl
should be treated; relieved dissonance by developing negative attitudes towards prisoners
-holding positive attitudes about two options but having to choose one causes dissonance; postdecisional dissonance
motivates the person to focus on positive aspects of one choice and negative aspects of the other; effects occurs
automatically and w/o awareness
E.g. person leaning towards buying truck focuses on positive things about truck and negative about car
-dissonance can change attitude:
Festinger’s dissonance study: participants did extremely boring task and were paid $1 or $20 to lie to another
participant that it was enjoyable; those paid $1 reported that the task was more enjoyable than those paid $20
Those paid $1 had insufficient monetary justification for lying; they changed attitude about the task to reduce
dissonance (to justify why they went along with the lie)
$20 was enough justification; those paid $20 did not experience dissonance and didn’t change attitude about task
-when ppl put themselves through pain/embarrassment to join a group, they experience dissonance; (e.g. hazing); they
reduce dissonance by inflating importance of group and commitment to it
Persuasion
-Persuasion: the active and conscious effort to change attitudes through the transmission of a message
-persuasion leads to attitude change in two fundamental ways:
-Elaboration Likelihood Model: theory of how persuasive messages leads to attitude changes; says that persuasion
works via two routes:
Central Route: ppl pay attention to arguments, use rational cognitive process; leads to strong attitudes that last
over time and resistant to change
Peripheral Route: ppl minimally process the message; leads to more impulsive action (e.g. person decides to buy
product b/c celebrity endorsed it)
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Sources who are attractive and credible are the most persuasive
How We Form Impressions of Others:
Nonverbal Behavior
-Nonverbal behavior: the facial expressions, gestures, movements, and mannerisms by which one communicates w/
others
-facial expression important: newborns prefer to look at picture of human face rather than blank outline of head; ppl in
Western cultures make eye contact when speaking to someone; other groups like Native American tribes think making
direct eye contact is disrespectful to elders
-people can make accurate judgments based on few seconds of observing nonverbal behavior: “thin slices of behavior”
Judges’ nonverbal behavior can predict whether jury finds defendants guilt/not guilty; judges unconsciously may
indicate beliefs about guilt through facial expression, tone of voice, etc.
Participants accurately judged sexual orientation after watching short silent video or figural outline of someone
walking or gesturing; gait provides information about affective state (e.g. ppl w/ bounce in step are happy)
Attributions
-Attributions: people’s causal explanations for events or actions, including other ppl’s behaviors
-ppl want to draw inferences b/c they need order and predictability; prefer to think things happen for reasons
-Just World Hypothesis: in this perspective, victims must have done something to justify what happened to them;
making attributions about victim
-Personal Attributions (Internal/Dispositional Attributions): explanations that refer to things within people, e.g.
abilities, traits, moods
-Situational Attributions (External Attributions): refer to outside events, like weather, accidents, or ppl’s actions
-attributions can vary also in stability and controllability
E.g. weather is situational, unstable, and uncontrollable
Depressed ppl attribute failures to their incompetence (uncontrollable and permanent); nondepressed ppl attribute
failures to temporary, uncontrollable factors
-Fundamental Attribution Error: the tendency to overemphasize personal factors and underestimate situational factors
in explaining behavior (when explaining other ppl’s behavior)
Edward Jones originated the idea (called it correspondence bias)
In contrast, when ppl make attributions about themselves, they focus on situation rather than personal dispositions
Leads to Actor/Observer Discrepancy: ppl tend to attribute their own errors to external factors, but tend to
attribute other ppl’s errors (like lateness) to personal characteristics like laziness; this discrepancy is observed
mostly for negative events
Ppl from Eastern cultures use more info when making attributions than Westerners; more likely to believe that
human behavior is the outcome of personal and situational factors; but still tend to favor personal information
over situational information the predictions derived from fundamental attribution error is found across cultures
Stereotypes
-Stereotypes: cognitive schemas that allow for easy, fast processing of information about ppl based on their membership
in certain groups
Heuristic processing allows us to make fast decisions
Affect impression formation: e.g. ppl more likely to falsely remember male name than female name as that of a
famous person (in the false-fame effect) b/c of the stereotype that men more like to be famous
Subtyping: when ppl encounter someone who does not fit a stereotype, they will put that person in a special
category (instead of altering the stereotype)
Self-Fulfilling Effects
-Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: ppl’s tendency to behave in ways that confirm their own or other’s expectations; can cause
initially untrue stereotypes to become true
E.g. in a study, principal called some random students bloomers, likely to increase IQ during school year;
standardized tests showed that the bloomers showed large increases in IQ
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Document Summary

Attitudes: our evaluations of objects, of events, or of ideas. People develop negative attitudes about new objects more quickly than they develop positive attitudes. Mere exposure effect: greater exposure to an item, and therefore greater familiarity with it, causes ppl to have more positive attitudes about the item. Ppl prefer reversed photos of themselves b/c it corresponds to what they see when they look in the mirror. Attitudes can be conditioned: e. g. advertisers use classical conditioning (attractive celebrity paired w/ a product to develop positive attitudes about product); Operant conditioning also shapes attitudes (develop positive attitude towards studying after you are rewarded w/ good grades after studying) The stronger and more personally relevant the attitude, the more likely it will predict behavior, be consistent over time, and be resistant to change. Explicit attitudes: those you know about; can report to other ppl.

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