Unformatted text preview: Cognitive Dissonance
The Need to Justify Our Actions 1
1. 2 3
Neither Agree Nor Disagree 4 5
Strongly Agree Exercising at least three times a week promotes good health 5 It is important for all citizens to vote if the government is to reflect the will of the people5 Recycling used materials helps the environment. 5 It is dangerous to drink and drive. 5 1. 1. 1. Yes or No
1. Last week, did you exercise at least three times? no Did you vote in the last election for which you were eligible? yes Do you regularly recycle soda cans, newspapers, and other recyclables? no Have you ever driven after drinking more than two drinks? yes 1. 1. 1. Feeling uncomfortable? Cognitive Dissonance feeling of discomfort caused by performing an action that threatens our self-image Leon Festinger (1957) Inconsistency between cognitions Modern research focuses more on selfesteem Why do we feel dissonance?
1. Need to feel consistent. Original Theory (Festinger) 1. Need to maintain self-esteem Modern Theories Reducing Dissonance
3 ways to reduce cognitive dissonance 1. Change our behavior
1. Change our cognitions Add consonant cognitions 1. Case Study: Smoking
Teen Anxious For Cigarette Addiction To Kick In EVANSVILLE, IN--Ashleigh Davis, 14, who started smoking three weeks ago, "can't wait" for her cigarette addiction to kick in. "Right now, I'm smoking, like, four or five cigarettes a day, but I definitely don't feel like I'm hooked yet," Davis said Tuesday. "That's gonna be so cool when the nicotine kicks in, and I have to, like, sneak out of restaurants and stuff for a fix." Behavior-Belief Dissonance Behavior: I smoke. Cognition: Smoking is dangerous. Resulting Feeling: Inconsistency (original theory) Diminished self-esteem (modern theory) Reducing Dissonance
1. Change behavior stop smoking Change cognitions Perceive self as a non-smoker Smoking isn't dangerous Add consonant cognitions I enjoy it 1. 1. Eliminating Dissonance Many methods can work. We pick the easiest effective response. Many times, it is easiest change attitudes to be consistent with behaviors. Rationalizing behaviors as opposed to behaving rationally Eliminating Dissonance Cognitive Dissonance in action!
Postdecision Dissonance Effort Justification Insufficient Justification Insufficient Punishment Decisions, Decisions, Decisions Postdecision Dissonance Brehm, 1956 Knox & Inkster, 1968 Dissonance & Values Mills, 1958 Children who cheated showed a more lenient attitude Children who resisted the temptation to cheat showed a harsher attitude Effort Justification Aronson & Mills, 1959 IV: Initiation (None, Mild, or Severe) DV: Liking for Group Aronson & Mills, 1959
100 95 90 85 80 75 70 None Mild Severe Insufficient Justification Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959 Video of peg-turning experiment Insufficient Justification
Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959 Excruciatingly Boring Task--peg turning Lie to another student about how fun it was IV: Paid $1 or $20 to lie DV: How much did you really enjoy this experiment? Insufficient Justification
Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959 Results Paid $20, Ps later reported task was boring. Paid $1 later reported task was fun, Why? Insufficient justification. $1 is not enough to justify lying, but $20 is. Insufficient Justification Harmon-Jones et al., 1996 Participants drank good or bad-tasting beverage Wrote a sentence indicating liking for beverage IV: choice (low: vs. high) Threw paper away DV: Rated how much they liked the beverage Harmon-Jones et al., 1996
8 Rating liking of drink 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Low Choice High Choice Bad drink Good drink Insufficient Punishment
Janklow charged with second-degree manslaughter in crash
Monday, September 1, 2003 Posted: 12:02 PM EDT (1602 GMT) Rep. William Janklow, a Republican, is a former governor of South Dakota. 12 speeding tickets in 4-year period More than any other congressperson Known to brag about his reckless driving Quoted saying "fines are not enough to keep [people] from speeding...but if I thought I could face jail time...I would be more careful." "I got to meet two of the Nebraska Highway Patrolmen yesterday [they] cut me a little slack and I appreciate that." Last summer, drove 99 mph through a forest fire with 2 reporters in his SUV Insufficient Punishment Do threats of harsh punishment lead to behavior change? What about attitude change? No! Severe punishment can lead to behavior change, but not attitude change Mild punishment dissonance Insufficient Punishment
Severe Punishment "I like speeding" + "speeding ended my career" = less speeding Mild Punishment "I like speeding" + "I'm not speeding" = dissonance "I don't like speeding" + "I'm not speeding" = dissonance reduced Derogating the Victim
How can we hurt others and still respect ourselves? Hating our victims Harming someone induces dissonance. Why? "I am a good person." "I just hurt that person." Davis & Jones, 1960 Bersheid, Bove, & Walster, 1968 Self-Discrepancy Theory Higgins (1987) We have different selves and problems can arise when there are discrepancies between them Actual who we are Ideal we would ideally like to be Ought who we think we ought to be Self-Discrepancies Discrepancy between actual and ideal self: dejection-related emotions Discrepancy between actual and ought self: agitation-related emotions Self-Discrepancies
Discrepancy Emotional Reactions Actual/Ideal Self *Disappointment *Sadness *Lower physiological arousal *Lowered SE *Depression *Illness Actual/Ought self *Guilt *Embarrassment *Heightened physiological arousal *Anxiety *Illness Long-term Effects Self-Evaluation Maintenance Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model Tesser, 1988 What happens when a close other does well on a task? Depends on how important the task is to you If it is important to you, comparison effect feel envious, frustrated, and threatened by their performance feel positively and are proud of the other person's success Cialdini's BIRGing (Basking in Reflected Glory) If it's not important to you, reflection effect Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model 1. 2. 3. Dissonance arising when a friend outperforms oneself in a cherished domain can be resolved by: distancing oneself from the friend; changing how relevant the domain is to one's self-definition; or improving one's performance to outshine the friend's performance Class Activity
Dissonance & Persuasion ...
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