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Cognitive Dissonance Theory


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Chapter 16

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Cognitive Dissonance Theory

  2. 2. Definition <ul><li>Cognitive Dissonance: discomfort experienced when one’s behavior and attitudes or opinions are mismatched </li></ul><ul><li>Postulates basic need for consistency. People adjust behavior to fit attitudes, or adjust attitudes to fit behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Tension of dissonance motivates change. </li></ul><ul><li>Tension increases according to the issue’s importance to the self (remember ego-involvement from ELM) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Reducing Dissonance:Hypothesis 1 <ul><li>SELECTIVE EXPOSURE </li></ul><ul><li>Avoidance of exposure to threatening ideas / exposure to ideas consistent with existing beliefs prevents dissonance. </li></ul><ul><li>Warm personal relationships provide supportive environment for reception of threatening ideas </li></ul>
  4. 4. Reducing Dissonance:Hypothesis 2 <ul><li>POST DECISION DISSONANCE </li></ul><ul><li>creates a need for reassurance. </li></ul><ul><li>PDD greater according to time spent making the decision, and when decision is difficult to reverse. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Reducing Dissonance:Hypothesis 3 <ul><li>MINIMAL JUSTIFICATION FOR ACTION INDUCES SHIFT IN ATTITUDE </li></ul><ul><li>This hypothesis suggests it is better to change behavior first, and to provide only minimal reward for that change, so that respondents feel they have engaged in the behavior for its intrinsic benefits, not just to receive the (paltry) reward. </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes more likely to follow behavior, when behavior has involved considerable effort/investment </li></ul><ul><li>In the $1/$20 “lie” experiment, those who received $1 worked harder to bring their self-perception into line with their deception – by reframing their “deception” as the “truth”. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Revisions to dissonance theory <ul><li>Dissonance caused by psychological rather than logical need for consistency </li></ul><ul><li>The knowledge that one has damaged another creates dissonance </li></ul><ul><li>Some people reduce dissonance by reminding themselves by self affirmation tactics. High self-esteem is a resource for reducing dissonance. </li></ul><ul><li>Denial, forgetfulness, trivialization are alternatives to attitude change, when faced with dissonance. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Implications for Persuasion <ul><li>Good relationship with persuadee will bypass selective exposure </li></ul><ul><li>Good relationship will provide support to help cope with PDD </li></ul><ul><li>Provide only just enough encouragement for new behavior. Freely chosen new attitudes/behaviors endure </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage persuadee to take responsibility for any negative outcomes </li></ul>
  8. 8. Critique <ul><li>May not be falsifiable </li></ul><ul><li>We need a way to detect the amount of dissonance an individual experiences </li></ul>