o amnesics exhibit cognitive dissonance reduction?

Conscious attention to the counterattitudinal

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Unformatted text preview: eliberately focused on those elements of the relationship that were undesirable from the start or were ambiguous enough that they can now be reinterpreted in a negative light. Conscious attention to the counterattitudinal behavior and conscious work in the service of attitude revision are both unspecified, but implied, components of cognitive dissonance theory. Language alluding to the use of consciously controlled processing in attitude change is often used by dissonance researchers: Across four decades of research, there have been references to the need to “engage in cognitive work” (Petty & Wegener, 1998, p. 336), statements that dissonance research is “primarily concerned with processes which are conscious and capable of verbalization” (Hovland & Rosenberg, 1960, p. 202) and that attitude change requires “awareness of . . . his [the participant’s] discrepant commitment” (Brehm & Cohen, 1962, p. 168), and mention of the “phenomenological experience of cognitive dissonance” (Elliot & Devine, 1994, p. 391). Most significant, Festinger (1964) concluded that “dissonance reduction does, indeed, require that time be spent in thinking about the characteristics of the alternative” (p. 59). Given these references and prior research on implicit attitude change more generally (Kunst-Wilson & Zajonc, 1980; Wilson, Lindsey, & Schooler, 2000), it is somewhat surprising that the necessity of conscious attention and effort for behavior-induced attitude change seldom has been investigated (Brock & Grant, 1963; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). On the basis of our results from Experiment 1, we hypothesized that the attentional resources associated with working memory are not a necessary component of behavior-induced attitude change. To test this hypothesis, we ran normal participants through the free-choice paradigm under normal or cognitive-load conditions. Cognitive load (e.g., counting the occurrences of a tone) severely reduces the resources available for attentional and cognitive processing (Baddeley, 1986), and processes unimpaired by cognitive load are considered to be relatively automatic (Gilbert, Pelham, & Krull, 1988; Wegner & Bargh, 1998). We predicted that participants under cognitive load would show as much attitude change in the free-choice paradigm as participants under no load. EXPERIMENT 2 Method Participants Sixteen male and 16 female undergraduate students at Harvard University received $10 each for their voluntary participation. All participants were right-handed and between 17 and 21 years of age. Procedure The procedure was identical to the procedure used in Experiment 1 with the exception that for half the participants, the two phases during which attitude change might occur (i.e., the choice and reranking phases) were performed under cognitive load. Participants in the cognitiveload condition heard a series of tones, each at one of three pitches, and were required to keep track of the number of tones at the lowest pitch (Gilbert & Silvera, 1996; Lieberman, Gilbert, & Jarcho, 2000). In the no-load condition, participants were told to ignore t...
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This document was uploaded on 01/26/2014.

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