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Chapter 7

Chapter 7

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Western University
Psychology 2720A/B
Richard Sorrentino

Psych 2720A Chapter 7: Attitude Change Rationalizing Our Own Behaviour: Cognitive Dissonance Theory Feeling Bad About Irrational Behaviour: The Arousal of Dissonance cognitive dissonance theory: 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 dissonant cognitions: beliefs that are inconsistent or logically discrepant with one another ie. I smoke and Smoking causes cancer. Festinger viewed that people who had dissonant cognitions and were aware of it produced unpleasant feelings. These unpleasant feelings serve as motivation for us to change our incompatible state dissonance can be dened as the state of feelings bad or conicted about ones own irrational behaviour importance of each cognition inuences the amount of dissonance Making Irrational Behaviour Rational: The Reduction of Dissonance reducing dissonance involves making the irrational behaviour seem rational reduction must involves rationalization: convincing ourselves that our current or past behaviour made sense after all cognitive dissonance theory is a motivational model focusing on self-persuasion in the form of rationalization one way to reduce dissonance is to change the cognitions directly another way people can reduce dissonance is by adding consonant cognitions dissonance between important cognitions is more intense than dissonance between unimportant cognitions (relevance plays a key role) Early Research on Dissonance Theory three major domains of the theory - each of the domains have been studied using different experimental paradigms or research methodologies. each of the paradigms included: induced compliance, effort justication, and free choice Induced Compliance: Dissonance from Counterattitudinal Behaviour to capture dissonance, participants in a study must be presented with counterattitudinal behaviour - behaviour that is counter to, or inconsistent with, and individuals attitudes, values, or beliefs. induced compliance paradigm: a research methodology used to test dissonance theory that arouses dissonance by getting people to engage in counterattitudinal behaviour participants are induced to comply with an experimenters request that they behave in a way that is inconsistent with their attitudes the more inconsistency there is between ones attitudes and behaviours, the larger amount of dissonance is created Effort Justication: Dissonance from Wasted Effort those who feel they have worked hard for something (put lots of effort into) and have not gotten as much in return back will have dissonant thoughts dissonance theory predicts that people who suspect they have wasted effort will be motivated to change one of the dissonant cognitions or to add consonant cognitions ie. individuals might say that they didnt exert too much effort after all ie. individuals might also change the cognition about having gained nothing effort justication paradigm: a research method 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 prediction is that participants would reduce dissonance by convincing themselves that the goal was actually worthwhile study done on women and a sexual discussion group - some of the women were put through a severe screening test and some were put through a mild screening then, all women were provided with a tape to listen to that was made purposely boring prediction was that women who went through the severe screening would produce more dissonant cognitions according to the paradigm the women who had dissonant cognitions started to rationalize and say stuff like: The tape was actually somewhat interesting Free Choice: Dissonance from Making a Decision Festinger proposed that after having made a decision, people almost always experience some dissonance - postdecisional dissonance people experience this dissonance because the chosen option has negatives and the rejected option has positives free choice paradigm: a research method used to test dissonance theory that arouses dissonance by getting people to choose between two or more alternatives people reduce this dissonance by focusing on the positive features of the chosen alternative and the negative features of the rejected alternative Alternative Interpretations of Dissonance Findings Self-Perception Theory Bem hypothesized that sometimes people infer their internal states, such as attitudes and emotions, from their behaviour and the situation in which the behaviour occured. people refer to their past actions and behaviour to infer attitudes regarding an topic self-perception occurs when the attitudes (internal states) are weak or ambiguous dissonance theorists hypothesized that aversive arousal motivated the attitude change, whereas self-perception theorists hypothesized that there was no arousal at all. Impression Management Theory impression management theory: an alternative to dissonance theory that argues that participants in dissonance experiments want to appear consistent to the experimenter and therefore lie about their attitudes. this has a relation with self-presentation goals of being likeable and competent limitations: participants in some studies reported attitudes that were not consistent with their counterattitudinal behaviour even though the person who took the attitude measure was not the same person who observed the counterattitudinal behaviour Self-Afrmation Theory self-afrmation theory: an alternative to the dissonance theory that argues people are threatened by behaviour that challenges their self-worth and can deal with this threat by reafrming an important value people view themselves as moral and capable individuals and if something is inconsistent with this (dissonance), they usually make up for it by doing something good later on without changing their attitudes Recent Research on Dissonance Theory one issue that has received attention is whether the arousal of dissonance requires that bad consequences result from the individuals actions. some people have proposed that people dont feel upset from the counterattitudinal cognitions unless something negative can happen recent research has indicated, however, that negative consequences is not necessary for dissonance to occur researchers have identied a new paradigm for studying dissonance in which the individuals behaviour has not aversive consequences The Hypocrisy Paradigm hypocrisy paradigm: a research method used to test dissonance theory that arouses dissonance by having peop
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