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Helmreich, R., Aronson, E. J LeFan, J. (1970). To err is humanizing sometimes: Effects of self-esteem, competence, and a pratfall on interpersonal attraction.

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Presentation on theme: "Helmreich, R., Aronson, E. J LeFan, J. (1970). To err is humanizing sometimes: Effects of self-esteem, competence, and a pratfall on interpersonal attraction."— Presentation transcript:

1 Helmreich, R., Aronson, E. J LeFan, J. (1970). To err is humanizing sometimes: Effects of self-esteem, competence, and a pratfall on interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16(2), ~ Elliot Aronson ~

2 THEORY OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE (1957) BASIC HYPOTHESIS If a person held two cognitions that were psychologically inconsistent, he or she would experience dissonance and would attempt to reduce dissonance much as one would attempt to reduce hunger, thirst, or any drive. The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try and reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance. Leon Festinger

3 Earthquake Research by Singh in India Epicenter In unaffected areas far away from the epicenter, people exhibited high levels of anxiety and spread rumors of impending further disaster. Why? Insufficient justification

4 Why was the theory of cognitive dissonance (“insufficient justification) such a big deal? Helped to shift psychology from the focus on behaviorism (e.g., reinforcement paradigms) by: Promoting the key role of cognition and motivation Questioning the basic assumptions that greater rewards lead to an increase in behavior and that greater punishments are more effective Showing that dissonance can produce long-term change Demonstrating dissonance can affect important (major) issues Use of a “new” experimental methodology (“experimental reality’) – extravagant scenarios/events (scripts, acting involved)

5 Power of Large Reward/Severe Punishment versus Small Reward/Mild Punishment

6 Also, offered different prediction regarding the catharsis hypothesis (psychoanalytic theory) Catharsis Hypothesis Aggress against another (hit, yell, call names); release violent tendencies; feel better; less likely to be aggressive in the future Dissonance Theory Aggress against another; justify one’s aggression by disparaging the victim; feel more hostile to victim; may aggress against victim again

7 Attitude: “I’m not going to smoke cigarettes anymore” Behavior: Smoke cigarettes Inconsistency 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” Some Options

8 Choice is involved Individuals are responsible for any consequences of their behavior (and if the consequences could be anticipated) Belief that negative consequences are likely to occur One’s self-concept is involved. Regarding the self-concept, people strive to: Preserve a consistent, stable, predictable sense of self Preserve a competent sense of self Preserve a morally good sense of self More Cognitive Dissonance Occurs When:

9 Cheating is not good but not so bad either Decide to cheat Do NOT cheat Cheating is no big deal Cheaters ought to be expelled Mills, J. (1958) Administered an exam with prizes for winners. Almost impossible to win without cheating. Made it fairly easy to cheat.

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

11 Are aversive consequence necessary for dissonance to be produced? Hypocrisy and Condom Use Study Hypocrisy: Compose arguments for using condoms on video to be shown to HS students, Make a list of times they found it difficult to use them

12 ~ Shower Study ~ Commitment Condition: Asked students if they were willing to sign a flyer (to be displayer on posters) encouraging people to save water in a gym “Take shorter showers. Turn off water while soaping up. If I can do it, so can you.” Mindful Condition: Asked students to complete a water conservation survey designed to make them award of their pro- conservation attitudes, and that they sometimes were wasteful while showering. Results: Those who signed the petition and were made aware of their past, wasteful showering behavior, took much shorter showers (average of 3.5 minutes!

13 “TOY” STUDY Children rate desirability of toys Told not to play with the most desirable toy MILD THREATSEVERE THREAT Children did not play with the “forbidden” toy Children rate the desirability of the toys a 2 nd time after not playing with the desired Which group viewed the desirable toy most attractive? Why? Attractiveness Low High Attractiveness Low High

14 From Freedman (1965). Results several weeks after receiving a mild versus severe threat to not play with the desirable (forbidden) toy

15 Effort Justification Role of Severe Initiation Aronson & Mills (1959)

16 ATTITUDES REGARDING MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION Original belief = “No” Asked to give speech opposite of their attitude (for legalization) Speech watched by research team Told speech taped and would be shown to high school students Attitudes regarding marijuana legalization More positive views of legalization


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