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- Cognitive Dissonance Theory – Why So Influential?

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Presentation on theme: "- Cognitive Dissonance Theory – Why So Influential?"— Presentation transcript:

1 - Cognitive Dissonance Theory – Why So Influential?

2 Traditional Persuasion Techniques A)Greater rewards lead to more responses B) Greater punishment leads to less responses C) Use of "credible" sources (experts, authority figures) D) Use of conformity paradigms (e.g., Asch, Sherif)

3 Some Weaknesses of Traditional Persuasion Approaches A)Effects not very strong B) Short-term effects C) Limited to less important issues

4 THEORY OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE (1957) BASIC HYPOTHESIS The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try and reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance Attitude (e.g., positive self- concept) Behavior inconsistent with the attitude Creation of dissonance Leon Festinger

5 Carol Tavris YouTube interview: HereHere Overview of Basic Cognitive Dissonance

6 Some Options 1) Change behavior (e.g., Throw pack away) 2)Change cognitions (e.g., “Smoking isn’t all that bad”; “I don’t really smoke that much”) 3) Add supporting cognitions (e.g., “ Smoking relaxes me” “it helps me think better” Attitude : “I’m not going to smoke cigarettes anymore”) Behavior : Smoke cigarettes ~ Reducing Dissonance ~

7 Self-Affirmation : Do something foolish or poor (e.g., insult an innocent person, fail on a task related to one’s self concept, continue to smoke despite intentions to quit) Reducing Dissonance (cont.). I’m a generous, nice person; a good spouse


9 Impact Bias [Overestimating the severity or duration of one’s emotional reactions to a negative event in the future] Not being hired for a desirable job; or being rejected for graduate school Expect to be VERY upset........... BUT Justification occurs: Company/school was not that good anyway; didn’t really want to work or go to school there. Interview was lousy; Selection process was unfair *** We overestimate our emotional reactions because it is largely unconscious

10 Dissonance and Self-Esteem Personality Test Feedback (fake) 1)Positive feedback (interesting, mature) 2) Negative feedback (immature, uninteresting) 3) No feedback People receiving positive feedback were less likely to cheat in a follow-up card game when given the chance People receiving negative feedback were most likely to cheat in a follow-up card game when given the chance Who experiences more dissonance after doing something cruel or foolish, those with high self esteem of those with low self esteem? Keeping Self-Concept Consistent With Behavior (Self-esteem example)

11 Rational Behavior Versus Rationalizing Behavior Need to maintain our self-esteem leads to non-rational thought –motivated to convince ourselves we are right Strong “Pro” Position on an Issue Strong “Con” Position on an Issue Plausible, reasonable pro and con arguments “Silly,” implausible pro and con arguments Prediction -- Dissonance produced when 1) reasonable position presented against your own views and 2) silly arguments presented supporting your positions = try to ignore these Memory Best recall for 1) reasonable arguments for one’s own position and 2) implausible, silly ones fore the opposing side

12 Post-Decision Dissonance Every time we make a decision, we experience some dissonance Chosen alternative has some negative aspects Rejected alternative has some positive aspects This dissonance is often reduced by: 1) Enhancing the attractiveness of the chosen alternative (& reduce negative aspects) 2) Devaluating the rejected alternatives (& downplay positive aspects) Example(s)?

13 Which would you prefer? 1)Being able to return a purchased item within 30 days 2) Being told that all sales are final

14 Take pictures and print 2 of them (those interested in learning about photography while participating in psychology study) Could exchange photographs within 5 days Decision regarding photographs was final Role of Decision Permanence (Irrevocability) Liked their final decision less Predictions were wrong too! Students predicted that they’d be happier if they could keep their options open regarding the photographs (Gilbert & Ebert, 2002) Also, study regarding confidence regarding betting on a horse: Before placing bet After placing bet.... More confident (Know & Inkster, 1968)

15 Flaw in This Logic?

16 Measured 6th graders attitudes about cheating Gave opportunity to cheat in a game – Easy to cheat – Cheating almost necessary to win – Believed cheating could not be detected Some cheat, some do not cheat Next day --- Those who cheated were more lenient toward cheating (e.g., “everyone does it,” “it’s not so bad” Those who did not cheat, were more extreme in their views against cheating (“Could have got a better grade but cheating is very wrong/not moral; cheating is awful to do”) Dissonance Reduction and Personal Values

17 The Cheating Pyramid (Tavris) “It’s not a good thing” “... but it’s not such a bad thing” “It’s not so unethical, I need this grade” “Cheating is really wrong; everybody loses” “Oh please, it’s no big deal” “It’s disgusting! Expel cheaters!”

18 Effort Justification [The tendency for individuals to increase their liking for something they have worked hard to attain] STUDY: College students volunteered to join a group that would be meeting regularly to discuss various aspects of the psychology of sex. Different levels of initiation used: 1) Severe, 2) Mild, 3) No Initiation. Applied Examples: Military, Fraterities/Sororities (hazing).....

19 FESTINGER & CARLSMITH (1$ - $20 Study) Counterattitudinal Advocacy Perform boring task Asked to tell participant that the task was interesting $1 $20 Rate task Which group rated the task as more interesting after lying, those paid $1 or $20? Key is lack of sufficient external justification for one’s behavior

20 ~ Counterattitudinal Advocacy ~ Marijuana Legalization Original belief = “No” Asked to give speech opposite of their attitude (for legalization) More positive views of legalization Small fee to write pro legalization Large fee to write pro legalization

21 “TOY” STUDY Punishment & Self-Persuasion Children rate desirability of toys Told they were NOT allowed to play with the a desirable toy MILD THREAT SEVERE THREAT Children did not play with the desired toy Children rate the desirability of the toys a 2 nd time after not playing with the desired Which group rated the desirable toy most attractive?

22 Results of Forbidden Toy Study

23 Large Reward or Severe Punishment Small Reward or Mild Punishment External Justification (I did it for the money; I didn’t do it because I’d be punished a lot) Internal Justification (I didn’t really lie, the task was okay; I really didn’t like the toy anyway) Temporary change Lasting change - External Versus Internal Justification -

24 Hypocrisy Paradigm Hypocrisy Group : Made a list of the times they found it difficult or impossible to use condoms Applied Example: Reducing road rage – awareness of one’s own mistake while driving (e.g., cutting someone off )

25 Hypocrisy Paradigm & Road Rage Stability Forgiveness Participants cut off driver than get cut off by someone after 10 8 6 4 2 0 Negative intention Don’t cut off driver Cut off driver

26 ~ Ben Franklin Effect ~ [When we dislike someone, if we do them a favor, we will like them more] - Rival legislator who did not like him; Franklin asked to borrow a book - Why? – Behavior is dissonant with attitude – Change attitude about person to resolve dissonance Justification of Kindness Asked to donate $$ won to help experimenter continue research

27 Justification of Cruelty: Dehumanizing the Victim [e.g., use of derogatory names, trait descriptions, pictures, postures, cartoons] ChoiceNo Choice Listen to a tape of another person and to make a 1 st impression judgment. Then, read a negative evaluation that is heard by the other person Extent of negative ratings (change from initial ratings) Meet after Not meet 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 010 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Greater need to justify one’s negative evaluation (Davis & Jones, 1960)

28 Close : Met confederate and listed in next room Distant : Not meet confederate and listened via radio Guilt : ‘‘How likely is it that the ‘torture victim’ had cheated?” ‘How likely is it that the ‘torture victim’ is lying?” ‘‘How moral or immoral do you perceive the ‘torture victim’ to be?” (Gray & Wegner, 2010) Closeness and Perceptions of Guilt of Torture Victim [Dice roll – 8 gets most $, with an “0” for partner. Confederate reports rolling an “8” – no way to verify] More dissonance created

29 1)Choice is involved 2) Commitment has been made 3) Individuals are responsible for any consequences of their behavior (and if the consequences could be anticipated) 4) Negative consequences are believed to be likely to occur 5)One’s self-concept is involved 6)Important decisions 7) Permanent decisions (e.g., “all sales are final”) More Cognitive Dissonance Occurs When:

30 SELF-PERCEPTION THEORY Internal States (e.g., “So-called “private” stimuli, physiological) “Gross” evaluation (e.g., “I feel happy”; “I feel sad” Use of external social cues for precise discriminations (e.g., other people’s behavior or one’s own actions, statements, thoughts) Attitudes formed DARYL BEM

31 Attutude survey (on environmental issues WEAKSTRONG Behavioral survey (what people actually did about environmental issues Attitude survey (on environmental issues Those with weak initial environmental attitudes had their attitudes affected by their responses to the behavior questionnaire SELF-PERCEPTION STUDY

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