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Chapter 4

PSYC 231 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Cognitive Dissonance, Implicit-Association Test, Stanford Prison Experiment

Course Code
PSYC 231
Carrie Kobelsky

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attitude: a favourable or unfavourable evaluative reaction towards something
or someone, exhibited in one’s beliefs, feeling, or intended behaviour
-not good predictors of behaviour
-composed of 3 dimensions:
(a) affect (feelings)
(b) behaviour tendency
(c) cognition (thoughts)
when attitudes predict behaviour — people’s attitudes hardly predict their
varying behaviours, except when:
(i) social influences on what we say are minimal
-explicit attitudes: controlled, explicit, & consciously aware of
measure with self-report measures
-implicit attitudes: automatic, pervasive, habitual, & unaware
of, but that can predict behaviour
implicit association test: a computer-driven assessment
of implicit attitudes that uses reaction times to measure
people’s automatic associations
implicit biases are pervasive, they differ among people, &
people are often unaware of their own implicit biases
-together, both explicit & implicit attitudes help to predict people’s
behaviour & judgement
(ii) other influences on behaviour are minimal
-principle of aggregation: the effects of an attitude on
behaviour becomes more apparent when we look at person’s
average behaviour over time, rather than isolated events
-does not explain behaviour variability across situations
(iii) attitudes specific to behaviour are examined — the attitude must be
specifically relevant to the observed behaviour, such that then specific,
relevant attitudes will predict the intended, actual behaviour
(iv) attitudes are potent — when something reminds us to think about our
attitudes, or when they were forged by an actual experience, making
them more enduring & likely to guide actions
-actually thinking of our past behaviour & attitudes around those
behaviours predicts our future behaviours
-attitudes that are at the forefront of our mind & that we are
passionate about them are more likely to affect our behaviour
theory of planned behaviour: able to better predict behaviour by knowing
people’s intended behaviour, & their perceived self-efficacy & control
-our attitude towards the behaviour + subjective norms + perceived
control behaviour intention actual behaviour
when behaviour affects attitudes — attitudes follow behaviour in:
(i) role playing — how an unreal, artificial role can evolve into what is real
(the role takes over us)
-role: a set of norms & actions that define how people in a given
social position ought to behave
-norms: rules for accepted & expected behaviour
-gender roles: norms for males & females
-ex. Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment — participants took
on their roles too seriously, resulting in it being canceled after just
6 days, instead of 14
they suffered during the 6 days, but they didn’t have any
long-term effects it wasn't about personal pathology,
but rather just the power of the situation
(ii) when saying becomes believing — we adjust our messages to our listeners,
& having done so, we believe the altered message
(iii) foot-in-the-door phenomena — the tendency for people who have first
agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request
-when people commit themselves to public behaviours & perceive
these acts to be their own doing, they come to believe more
strongly in what they have done
-low-ball technique: people who agree to an initial request will
often still comply when the requester ups the ante, whereas people
who receive only the costly request first are less likely to comply
works even when we are aware of it
-takes advantage of the psychology effects of making a
commitment & wanting to be helpful
(iv) evil & moral acts — result from gradually escalating commitments
-an initial evil act makes a more evil act easier
the more one harms another & adjusts their attitudes, the
easier harm-doing becomes
made easier with dehumanization & moral disengagement
-moral action (when chosen rather than coerced) affects moral
thinking, however when under the right conditions, people’s
attitudes will follow still their behaviour, even if the behaviour was
required, & therefore not chosen
(v) social movements — public conformity can lead to private acceptance
-you do what you are, & you become what you do
why behaviour affects attitudes — 3 possible sources:
(i) self-presentation — we express attitudes that match our actions &
make us appear consistent in order to manage our impression
-impression management: being concerned with making a
good impression in order to gain social & material rewards, to feel
better about ourself, to become more secure in our social
identities, or to appear consistent
(ii) self-justification — attitudes change because we are motivated to
maintain consistency among cognitions & avoid cognitive dissonance
-cognitive dissonance: tension that arises when we are
simultaneously aware of 2 inconsistent thoughts
also occurs when behaviour is inconsistent with our attitudes,
however we still try to automatically change our attitude
selective exposure: people prefer to expose themselves
with information that agrees with their point of view
dissonance-as-arousal: when you attribute your arousal
to dissonance, this results in greater attitude change, than
when you attribute your arousal to something else
-insufficient justification: the reduction of dissonance by
internally justifying one’s behaviour when the external
justification is insufficient to do so
-dissonance-after-decisions: after choosing between 2 equally
attractive/unattractive options, the undesirable features of the chosen
alternative & the desirable features of rejected alternative remain,
resulting in dissonance
we try to reduce this dissonance by upgrading the chosen
alternative, & downgrading the unchosen option
-dissonance theory explains attitude change, because
deciding becomes believing & our preferences influence our
decision, which then sharpens our preferences
best when discrepancy between behaviour & attitude is large
-culture shapes the way we experience cognitive dissonance, but the
experience of feeling dissonance may be shared across many
different cultures
individualistic (strong, self-reliant, assertive, independent) self-
concept dissonance following a personal choice
collectivist (self-sacrificing, dependable, generous, helpful) self-
concept dissonance following choice made for one’s group
(iii) self-perception — when we are unsure of our own attitudes, we infer
them by looking at our behaviour & their circumstances
-self-perception explain attitude formation because our
actions effect our mood & feelings
best when discrepancy between behaviour & attitude is small
-our facial expressions can influence out attitudes, as well as
posture can affect our performance
-over-justification effect: the result of bribing people to do
something that they already enjoy doing, so that they then may
see their actions as now being externally controlled, rather than
intrinsically appealing
no external reward intrinsic motivation
external reward extrinsic motivation
an unanticipated reward does not undermine intrinsic interest
because we still attribute actions to our own motivation
occurs only when someone is offered an unnecessary reward
beforehand as an obvious effort to control behaviour
rewards & praise after the fact boost intrinsic motivation
rewards to seek control diminish intrinsic motivation
self-affirmation theory: people experience self-image threat after engaging
in an undesirable behaviour, & so we compensate by affirming another aspect
of the self in order to maintain our sense of integrity & self-worth
-people whose self-concept is threatened in one domain will compensate
by refocusing or doing good deeds in some other domains
PSYC 231: Chapter 4 - Behaviour & Attitudes
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