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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: email@example.com.
VOL. 12, NO. 2, MARCH 2001 CONSCIOUS CONTENT: THE ROLE OF
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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