o amnesics exhibit cognitive dissonance reduction?

Although rhetoricians since aristotle have been

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Unformatted text preview: r that induced them. Although rhetoricians since Aristotle have been interested in how and why people change their minds, scientific research on attitude change began in earnest only after the second world war (Asch, 1956; Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953; see Jones, 1998). Although much was learned about the conditions that elicit attitude change, only in the past two decades have psychologists become invested in understanding the information processing mechanisms that underlie it (Chaiken, Liberman, & Eagly, 1989; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). In the current analysis, we focus on the role of conscious reasoning in behavior-induced attitude change (i.e., changing an attitude to fit with recent behavior). We consider conscious reasoning to be composed largely of the attentional operations of working memory and the contents of explicit memory (O’Reilly, Braver, & Cohen, 1997). In two experiments, we examined the role of these two components by severely degrading their contributions to the process of attitude change. Address correspondence to Matthew Lieberman, Department of Psychology, Franz Hall, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563; e-mail: lieber@ucla.edu. VOL. 12, NO. 2, MARCH 2001 CONSCIOUS CONTENT: THE ROLE OF EXPLICIT MEMORY Explicit memory refers to one’s ability to consciously recollect past events, behaviors, and experiences (Schacter, Chiu, & Ochsner, 1993) and thus is a central component of most social abilities. Indeed, people’s memory for the identities and actions of other people and themselves forms the adhesive that gives them a continuing sense of place in their social world. Revising personal attitudes and beliefs in response to a counterattitudinal behavior naturally seems to depend on retrospective capacities. If Aesop’s forlorn lover of grapes could not remember that the grapes were out of reach, he would have no reason to persuade himself of their reduced quality. Current Models of Attitude Change Explicit memory plays an important role in the dominant models of behavior-induced attitude change. Festinger’s (1957) theory of cognitive dissonance posits that when a person’s actions and attitudes are discrepant, physiological arousal results, leading to psychological discomfort, which in turn motivates the person to restore harmony between his or her attitudes and behavior by altering the attitudes to fit the behavior. For example, in Brehm’s (1956) free-choice paradigm, women were asked to rate how much they liked a set of eight appliances. The experimenter then asked each participant to choose which of two appliances she preferred to take home as compensation for participation. After making a difficult choice between two appliances that they had rated nearly equally, participants were asked to rate the eight items again. In the final ratings, participants rated the chosen item higher, and the rejected item lower, than they had in their original ratings. In essence, participants spr...
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