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PSY220H1 (200)
Chapter 7

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Jennifer Fortune

Chapter 7 Attitude Change Rationalizing Our Own Behaviour : Cognitive Dissonance Theory Feeling Bad About Irrational Behaviour : The Arousal of Dissonance Cognitive dissonance theory a model proposed by Leon Festinger, which states that awareness of consonant cognitions makes us feel good, whereas awareness of dissonant cognitions makes us feel bad. Further, the unpleasant feelings produced by dissonant cognitions motivate us to do something to change our state Consonant cognitions beliefs that are consistent or compatible with one another; imply the other is valid/good I brush my teeth twice a day and Toothbrushing prevents cavities Dissonant cognitions beliefs that are inconsistent or logically discrepant with one another; imply the other is wrong/bad I smoke and Smoking causes cancer -dissonance can be defined as the state of feeling bad or conflicted about ones own irrational behaviour -dissonance between very important cognitions causes more intense negative feelings than less important cognitions e.g., spending $1000 on a useless workshop facilitates more intense dissonance than the $100 useless workshop Making Irrational Behaviour Rational: The Reduction of Dissonance -dissonance reduction must involve rationalization: convincing ourselves that our current or past behaviour made sense after all -Festinger hypothesized that one way to reduce dissonance is to change one of the dissonant cognitions directly: e.g., by stopping smoking, I smoke becomes I do not smoke -if changing one dissonant congnition is difficult, then dissonance can also be reduced by adding consonant cognitions -supports persons behavioura nd makes it seem more reasonable/justified; looking at the good side of it e.g., thinking that Smoking is enjoyable or Smoking keeps my weight down which is consonant with the cognition I smoke -last way of reducing dissonance is by reducing the importance of one of the dissonant cognitions and/or increasing the importance of one of the consonant cognitions e.g., a smoker might accept the risks of smoking, but decide the pleasure of smoking outweighs the risks(pleasure becomes more important than health) Early Research on Dissonance Theory -three major domains of dissonance theory, each studied using different experimental paradigms or research methodologies: induced compliance, effort justification, and free choice Induced Compliance: Dissonance from Counterattitudinal Behaviour -counterattitudinal behaviour is behaviour that is counter to, or inconsistent with, and individuals attitudes, values, or beliefs e.g., pretending to agree with someone on an issue simply because we dont want to argue induced compliance paradigm a research methodology used to test dissonance theory that arouses dissonance by getting people to engage in counterattitudinal behaviour. In this paradigm, participants are induced to comply with an experimenters request that they behave in a way that is inconsistent with their attitudes. -the dissonance is created between the two cognitions I believe X and I knowingly stated that I do not believe X (or I argued against X) -Leon Festinger and J. Merrill Carlsmith (1959) made pps work on two very boring tasks: turning pegs on a board, and placing spools on and off another board. -after they completed the tasks, they were told the purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of expectancies on task performance, and that they were in the control group where no pre-task expectancies were created -however, another group of pps were told(before doing the tasks) that the tasks would be really exciting/fun by someone who just completed the tasks(the experimental confederate) -experimenter then asks pps if they would like to take the role of the experimental confederate as the usual confederate wasnt available -almost all pps agreed and lied to the person in the waiting room that the tasks were really fun/exciting -pps therefore were induced to behave in a counterattitudinal fashion The tasks were boring and I told someone that the tasks were fun produces dissonance -this dissonance can be reduced by changing the cognition The tasks were boring by thinking maybe the tasks werent that bad -this same experiment was also manipulated to influence the amount of dissonance people would feel -pps were told they would be paid $20 or $1 to be the confederate -pps in the $20 condition did not have to convince themselves the tasks were fun, they justified their lie by saying I got paid a lot of money to say the tasks were fun -pps in the $1 condition had to convince themselves the tasks were fun to reduce dissonance -when asked to rate the enjoyability of the tasks, $1 condition rated tasks more enjoyable than the $20 and control conditions -shows that the former condition required dissonance reduction, but the large payment in the $20 condition was a strong enough consonant cognition for telling the lie -Zimbardo and his colleagues(1965) found that people who ate a grasshopper for a rude and unlikeable experimenter rated the grasshoppers more favourably as a food source than did people who ate a grasshopper for a polite and likeable experimenter-eating the grasshopper in the first place is counterattitudinal behaviour; no one likes eating grasshoppers -study utilized induced compliance paradigm to create dissonance between Eating grasshoppers is gross and I ate grasshoppers -likeable experimenter group justified their behaviour by saying I helped a nice person -unlikeable experimenter group justified their behaviour by thinking Eating grasshoppers isnt so bad Effort Justification: Dissonance from Wasted Effort -wasted effort produces dissonance; I worked hard and I gained nothing are highly dissonant cognitions -leads people to either change one of the cognitions, or to add consonant cognitions e.g., I worked hard -> I didnt really work that hard I worked hard and I gained nothing and But I learned an important lesson Effort justification paradigm a research methodology used to test dissonance theory that arouses dissonance by getting people to invest time or energy to achieve a goal that may not be worthwhile -pps would reduce the dissonance by convincing themselves the goal was worthwhile Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills(1959) published first study using effort justification paradigm -female students asked to join a sexual discussion group -two groups, one who underwent a severe test to see if they would be eligible, the other, a more mild test: -the severe group read aloud a list of obscene words, and detailed descriptions o
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