Dissonance theory

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  • Cognitive Dissonance Theory
    • Festinger
    • Accoring to this approach an important influence on our decisions is the need for consistency between attitudes and cognitions
      • Individuals are motivated the reduce dissonance by modifying this attitudes to fit their perceptions of their behaviour
      • eg smokers are bombarded with messages of the danger of smoking
        • their continuing to smoke will create dissonance this will be reduced by
          • change of their attitude
            • viewing it as an exaggeration that smoking to bad for you
          • reduce the behaviour
            • giving up smoking
          • Adding a third cognition
            • eg i intend to give up smoking once I've finished my A-levels
    • Festinger
      • male students asked to complete an extremely dull task
      • paid to inform other students waiting to complete the task that it was exciting and fun
      • those paid $1
        • rated it as worthwhile
        • to reduce their dissonance they changed their view
        • $1 not enough for lying
      • those paid $20
        • constant cognitions
        • said it was dull and boring because they could
        • no incentive to change view
    • Kleinjan
      • smokers decreased dissonance with justifications for smoking
        • eg addiction to nicotine
    • Cooper et al
      • cognitive dissonance is only important if
        • cognitive inconsistency provides discomfort
        • the individual takes responsibility for this inconsistency
    • Challenges behaviourist approach that actions are governed by reward and punishments
    • Post decisional dissonance
      • making a decision and feeling that we made the wrong choice
      • can be reduced by selective exposure to subsequent information
      • Knox et al asked punters how sure they were that their horse would win before and after they made a bet
        • evidence of the selective exposure hypothesis
    • Challenged with self perception theory
      • Bem et al
      • people are often unaware of their own attitudes
      • we extract our attitudes from our behaviour
        • eg the way we feel about a uni
        • in festingers experiment those who lied after being paid $1 had belived their own lie
      • will be used if
        • out initial feelings are weak or unclear
          • eg if we meet someone and we're not sure how we feel about them
          • no appropriate if we have strong feelings about something


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