Attitudes and Decision Making
• Tension arises when we are simultaneously aware of two inconsistent cognitions
– e.g., realizing that your behaviour doesn’t match your attitude
• We attempt to reduce that tension
Classic Study: Festinger & Carlsmith (1959)
- Subjects asked to twist wooden pegs placed in a board for 30 minutes
- Then asked to put spools of thread onto pegs and take them off again for 30 minutes
- Then asked to tell the next subject that the study was enjoyable and fun
- Two conditions:
• Condition1: Subjects paid $1 for doing the briefing
• Condition 2: Subjects paid $20 for doing the briefing
- After they had done that, original subjects asked how much they had enjoyed the study
Those with high cognitive dissonance were the group paid only $1 to take part in the study. They convinced themselves that they enjoyed taking part in the experiment more than they actually did to compensate doing such a mediocre task for such a small amount of money.
How can dissonance be reduced?
- Change the behaviour