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o amnesics exhibit cognitive dissonance reduction?

Dissonance theory explains attitude change in the

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Unformatted text preview: ead the difference in desirability between the chosen and rejected items. Dissonance theory explains attitude change in the free-choice paradigm in terms of the arousal caused by making a decision that does not logically follow from the participant’s initial ratings. Presumably, this arousal leads to increasing psychological discomfort, which draws attention. Once noticed, the discomfort is attributed back to the discrepancy between the counterattitudinal behavior and the initial attitude. Motivated reasoning ensues and alters the participant’s attitudes toward the chosen and rejected items so that the attitudes and behavior become consonant. Explicit memory is implicated in this account at the point when an attribution of the psychological discomfort to the counterattitudinal behavior occurs. In short, the behavior must be remembered in order for it to be an attributional target. The major alternative to dissonance theory, Bem’s (1965) self-perception theory, also relies on explicit memory. According to self-perception theory, people infer their own attitudes the same way they infer the attitudes of others, namely, by observing their own behavior. Asked to report their attitudes toward the appliances, Brehm’s participants presumably constructed new attitudes based on the most accessible information, their recent behavior. In order to do this, they needed to have explicit memory for that behavior. Copyright © 2001 American Psychological Society Downloaded from pss.sagepub.com at COLUMBIA UNIV on April 18, 2013 135 PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Attitude Change in Amnesics Anterograde Amnesia A strong test of whether explicit memory is involved in behaviorinduced attitude change would require that individuals perform a counterattitudinal behavior and then completely forget it soon afterward. Patients with anterograde amnesia constitute a neuropsychological population that is likely to do exactly that. This form of amnesia results from either hippocampal or diencephalic damage, and greatly reduces or even eliminates the ability to form new memories that can be consciously retrieved (Squire, 1992). Any information currently held in mind is lost quickly upon distraction. Amnesic patients should not exhibit behaviorinduced attitude change if explicit memory is required for it to occur. EXPERIMENT 1 We tested 12 amnesic patients and 12 age-matched adults using Gerard and White’s (1983) modified version of Brehm’s (1956) freechoice paradigm. All tasks were completed in a single testing session that was divided into four phases. In the first phase, participants examined two sets of 15 art prints and ranked each set, from most liked to least liked. In Phase 2, participants were shown six groups of two pairs of prints, and indicated for each group which pair they would prefer to hang in their home. For one of the groups, one pair comprised the 4thand 10th-ranked prints from one of the sets used in Phase 1, and the other pair comprised the 6th- and 12th-ranked prints from the same set. In Phase 3, participants were...
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