Cognitive Dissonance

Main Point

     Personal responsibility for negative consequences elicits a 
strong motivation to change attitudes.

I. A Little History

     A.  Leon Festinger, 1957 theory of cognitive dissonance

     B.  Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959

          1.  All subjects complete boring motor task

          2.  Control subjects get paid and report on atts

          3.  $20 and $1 subjects deceived "recruit" about task

          4.  $1 subjects reported liking for task
              $20 subjects reported being neutral
              Control subjects reported disliking task

     C.  Premise: inconsistency between cognitions --> dissonance

     D.  Incredible controversy 
          1.  dominant theory stated incentives drove behavior

          2.  under dissonance low incentive --> more att change

          3.  probably most heavily research theory 

     E.  Changing theory

          1.  from inconsistent cognitions to more complexity

          2.  still attracts good research

II. What is the Dissonance Path? (Cooper & Fazio, 1984)

     1. Action -> Aversive Cons? -> Int Attrib? -> Diss Arousal

     2. Label Negative? -> Int Attrib? -> Diss Motivation

     3. ATT Change (Aversive Cons OK) or ATT Bolstering

III. What Is the State of Dissonance Arousal and Motivation?

     A.  Subjective felt experience

     B.  Stress-like physiology

     C.  Motivational state (easy-difficult learning effects)

     D.  Dissonance Arousal vs. Dissonance Motivation

          1.  Arousal is general, non-specific state

          2.  Motivation is specific, negative arousal

          3.  Can have Arousal without Motivation

     E.  Research Examples

          1. Cooper and Croyle, 1981 (Stress symptoms)

     Write Pro- or Counter-ATT essays on Banning Drink at U
          Hi and Lo Choice Manipulated  

                         Mean Att Change     Mean SCR     

     Hi-Choice-Dissonance     7.4               8.1

     Hi-Choice-Consonance     2.4               4.6

     Lo-Choice-Dissonance     2.5               5.5

     Also differences in EEG, Heart Rate, and GSR

          2. Pallack and Pittman, 1972 (Learning Effects)

               a. boring pronunciation task (hi and lo choice)
                  easy vs difficult Stroop 
                    easy: name color ("LOT" "SAFE" "TOP")
                    diff: name color ("RED" "GREEN" "BLUE")

               b. Hi Diss should help easy, hinders diff

               c. fewer naming errors for Hi Diss under Easy
                  more naming errors for Hi Diss under Diff
                  reverse effects for Lo Diss

IV. What Causes Dissonance Arousal?

     A.  Discrepancy between self-perception and communication

     B.  Your communication leads to negative consequences

     C.  You make an internal attribution

          1.  Free choice of communication

          2.  Foreseeable negative consequence

     D.  Research Examples

          1.  Brehm, 1956

               a. women rate 8 products on desirability (1-8)

               b. given choice between 2 products for helping

               c. Diss Condition: both rate 5-8, diff .5-1.5

               d. No Diss: ratings differ by 2-3 points

               e. second rating of products

               1st Rating          2nd Rating          Diff

 Item Chosen      5.98                6.30              +.33
 Item Not         3.54                3.40              -.14

 Item Chosen      6.19                6.39              +.20
 Item Not         5.23                4.57              -.66   

          2.  Cooper and Worchel, 1970; negative consequence

               a. replicate Festinger and Carlsmith

               b. "deceived" recruit believes or not believes

               c. att change only for believing recruit

          3.  Nel, Helmreich, and Aronson, 1969; neg consequence

               a. counter-att speech on legalizing dope

               b. deliver to pro-,anti-dope, or school kids

               c. att change only for school kids

          4.  Brock and Balloun, 1967; exposure to information

               a. seek consistent info, avoid inconsistent

               b. smokers and non-smokers listening to info

               c. smoking-->cancer info (pro and anti)

               d. static over the headphones, press button

               e. smokers pressed during anti args
                  non-smokers pressed during pro args

               f. replicated with religiosity and Christian info

          5.  Staw, 1974  Choice effects here

     Study of ROTC subjects during Viet Nam before Lottery

          One Year Renewal              Full Committment

        Low              High         Low              High
      (1-122)          (245-366)    (1-122)          (245-366)

Consq?   No              Yes           No              Yes

Diss?    No              Yes           No              Yes

Act?   Renew             Quit        Stay             Stay

ATT?    Neg              Neg          Neg              Pos

V. What Causes Dissonance Motivation?

     A.  Search to explain Dissonance Arousal

     B.  You label Arousal negatively

     C.  You accept responsibility for negative consequence

          1.  No external attribution made

          2.  Internal attribution accepted

          3.  Arousal becomes Motivation becomes Change

     D.  Research examples

          1. Zanna & Cooper, 1974; misattribute Arousal

               a. study effect of pill on learning (placebo)
               b. Tension, No Info, or Relaxation side effects

               c. write counter-att essay under Hi or Lo Choice

                 Amount of Attitude Change by Condition
                            "Side Effects"

     Choice          Tension    No Info     Relaxation

      High             3.4        9.1*         13.4*
      Low              3.5        4.5           4.7

VI. What Changes Occur Following Dissonance Motivation?

     A.  Attitude Change

          1.  More favorable toward "negative" consequence

          2.  Most common finding in most research

     B.  Intensity of Attitude important

          1.  When Truth Fails, Festinger et al., 1956

               a. true believers proselytzing about Destruction

               b. space ship salvation from Other Beings

               c. Doom Day arrives and no Destruction

               d. cult continued and redoubled proselytizing

          2.  Feminists Failure, Sherman and Gorkin, 1980

               a. feminists attempt to solve a logic puzzle

               b. puzzle based on sex-role stereotypes
                  father and son going to football game
                  get in car accident and father's killed
                  seriously injured son taken to hospital
                  surgeon says, "can't operate this is my son."

               c. they fail at the task; even Feminists are blind

               d. serve as mock jurors in sex discrim case

               e. failures more favorable than control

               f. most ardent feminists gave greatest awards

VII. Dissonance and the ELM

     A.  Dissonance is a Moderator of Elaboration

     B.  Is person Motivated to process arguments

     C.  Arguments are your communication

VIII. Conclusions

     A.  Famous and widely researched theory

     B.  Appropriately revised (good theory-test-revise example)

     C.  Serious restrictions to its practical application