Nov17slides - COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY Leon...

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COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY Leon Festinger (1957): A fundamental human motivation is to maintain a state of cognitive consistency , that is: one’s beliefs, attitudes and beliefs do not contradict one another. A fundamental and powerful motivation. Dissonant cognitions: I am pro-choice. vs. I gave a pro-life speech. I am on a diet. vs. I just ate a chocolate cake. Festinger’s formal definition of “inconsistent”: “two elements are in a dissonant relation if the obverse of one would follow from the other.” [obverse, n., a proposition inferred immediately from another by denying the opposite of what the given proposition affirms: “The obverse of "all A is B " is "no A is not B".” ] Dissonance (according to Festinger): the appearance of dissonant cognitions arouses an aversive state of tension .
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“When Doing is Believing” Festinger & Carlsmith (1959): 1.Subject is greeted by experimenter who says that they are interested in various measures of human performance. 2.Experimenter gives subject a wooden board containing 48 square pegs in square holes. Subject is asked to turn each peg a quarter turn to the left, then a quarter turn back to the right, then back to the left, then back to the right. The routine is EXTREMELY MONOTONOUS, and it’s meant to be. 3.After 60 ENDLESS, EXCRUCIATING minutes the experimenter returns. Says, “You were in the control group. To test the effects of motivation on performance, other participants are being told that the experiment will be fun and exciting. Would you be willing to tell the next participant that the experiment was enjoyable?” 4.To make it more attractive, the experimenter offers the subject money: Either $1 or $20 ( a lot of money in 1959-$80 by today’s standards! ). 5.After telling the lie, subjects asked to rate how much they liked the peg-board task.
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Did subjects experience dissonance? Results: Subjects’ rating depended on how much they were paid (-5 to 5 scale). No lie (control) $1 lie $20 lie Subjects’ rating of their willingness to participate in similar experiment in the future. No lie (control) $1 lie $20 lie sufficient justification ” (for lying)…$1 subjects had insufficient justification .” A State of Dissonance “I am a good person.” Vs. “I said the task was fun.” (a lie) To resolve, you could change “I am a good person” to “I am a bad person” but that’s probably less likely than: “I am a good person.” Vs. “I said the task was fun, and it wasn’t too bad.”
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These results are highly counterintuitive : Most people tend to believe: “The more reward, the more you like it.” CDT predicts (and the data shows): “The less reward, the more you like it.” JUSTIFYING YOUR DECISION Brehm (1956) 1. subjects evaluated various consumer products (ostensibly a marketing research study). 2. After rating a toaster, coffee pot, radio, stopwatch, etc.
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2009 for the course EAS 120Y1 taught by Professor Ajimoro during the Spring '09 term at University of Toronto.

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Nov17slides - COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY Leon...

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