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1

Maintaining a Stable, Positive Self-Image

•  As humans, we strive to maintain a favorable view of ourselves
•  When confronted with unfavorable view of self
•  Experience discomfort

2

Three Ways to Reduce Dissonance

1.  Change behavior
2.  Justify behavior by changing one of the dissonant
cognitions
3.  Justify behavior by adding new cognition

3

Self-Affirmation

•  Bolster the self-concept
•  Reducing dissonance by adding a cognition about other positive attributes
•  e.g., smoker who fails to quit •  Not very smart of me to be smoking, but, I’m
really a very good mathematician!

4

Impact Bias

The tendency to overestimate the intensity and duration of our emotional reactions to future
negative events.
•  When we think about the future, we overestimate how bad negative events, like the end of a romantic relationship, will make us feel. What we fail to recognize is that dissonance reduction often helps
us bounce quickly.
•  We overestimate the pain of disappointment because reducing dissonance is largely unconscious.

5

Dissonance and the Self-Concept

•  Dissonance is most painful when one of the cognitions is about the self
•  Particularly true for those with high self-esteem
•  Temporary blows to self-esteem can lead to greater behaviors consistent with low opinion of the self (e.g., cheat)
•  People less likely to cheat when their self-concept of “not being a cheater” is invoked

6

The Permanence of the Decision

•  More important decisions = More dissonance
•  Greater permanence = More dissonance
•  Permanence of decision
•  How difficult it is to revoke

7

Creating the Illusion of Irrevocability

•  When decisions are permanent (irrevocable) •  Dissonance increases
•  Motivation to reduce dissonance increases

8


Three Reasons Lowballing Works

1.  Sense of commitment 2.  Sense of commitment triggers the anticipation of
an exciting event
3.  Price only slightly higher than other prices
elsewhere

9

The Decision to Behave Immorally

•  Moral dilemmas
•  Implications for self-esteem
•  Dissonance reduction
•  People may behave either more ethically or less ethically
in the future
Example: Cheating on a test
•  Change behavior •  Do not ever cheat again
•  Future behavior—more ethical or vice versa (convince urself its not that bad after all = less ethical)

10

Justification of Effort

The tendency for individuals to increase their liking for something they have worked hard to attain. (Sorority, army)
•  Mild initiation or no effort: less liking of group
•  Severe initiation: more liking of group

11

External Justification

•  A reason or an explanation for dissonant personal behavior that resides outside the individual (e.g., to receive a large
reward or avoid a severe punishment)

12

•  Internal Justification

•  The reduction of dissonance by changing something about
oneself (e.g., one’s attitude or behavior)

13

Insufficient Punishment

•  The dissonance aroused when individuals lack sufficient external justification for having resisted a desired activity
or object, usually resulting in individuals’ devaluing the
forbidden activity or object

14

When external justification for resisting an object or activity is insufficient:

  Dissonance is aroused
•  Reduce dissonance by
•  Self-persuasion
•  e.g., devaluing forbidden activity or object

15

The Lasting Effects of Self-Persuasion

Results:
•  Threat of severe punishment
•  Forbidden toy remained highly attractive
•  No change in attitude •  Had sufficient external justification for resisting toy
•  Threat of mild punishment
•  Forbidden toy was rated as less attractive •  External justification was insufficient •  Resolved dissonance through internal justification
•  Change attitude about toy

16

Self-Persuasion

A long-lasting form of
attitude change that results from attempts at self-justification

17

The Hypocrisy Paradigm

Induce hypocrisy: Students composed a speech describing the dangers of AIS and advocating for the use of condoms. Then,
after being made aware of their own failure to use condoms, students were asked to make a video for high school students )
•  Make person aware of conflict between
•  Attitudes •  Behavior
•  Hypocrisy creates dissonance
•  Reduce dissonance by changing behavior
•  e.g., attitudes about condoms and use of condoms

18

C
Justifying Good Deeds and Harmful Acts

  Dissonance theory predicts that when we
dislike someone, if we do them a favor, we will like them more
•  Behavior is dissonant with attitude •  Change attitude about person to resolve dissonance
•  “The Ben Franklin Effect”

19

Dehumanizing the Enemy: Justifying Cruelty
•  Cruel behavior is dissonant with view of self as

•  Cruel behavior is dissonant with view of self as a decent human being
•  Resolve dissonance by changing thoughts about victim
•  Davis and Jones (1960)
•  Participants told a young man (confederate) they thought he was
shallow, untrustworthy, boring.
•  Participants later convinced themselves that they didn’t like the victim and that he deserved to be hurt

20

Yale Approach: Factors

According to this approach, attitude change/persuasion influenced by 3 factors:- Source – originator of communication (Attractive?
Message – features of communication itself  one sided or 2? Fear?
Audience – characteristics of who is receiving the message
-Central route vs, Persuasion route

21

The ABC’s of Attitudes

Attitudes: evaluations of people, objects, or
ideas (attitude objects)
Affective: emotions towards attitude object

Behavioral: actions towards attitude object

Cognitive: thoughts about attitude object

22

Sources of Attitudes

Information
Values
Mere exposure
Operant Conditioning
Self-Perception
Body Movement

23

Function of Attitudes

Knowledge Function
Value Expression
Social Adjustment Function
Binge-Eating StudyBennington Study
Ego-Defensive Function
Anti-Semitism Example

24

Attitude Accessibility

strength of
association b/w attitude object and person’s
evaluation of it (i.e., reporting speed)

25

American culture

–  Stresses the importance of not conforming –  Celebrates the rugged individualist

26

Conformity

–  A change in one’s behavior due to the real or imagined influence of other people

27

Informational Social Influence

–  Conform because:
§  See others as a source of information to guide our behavior.
§  Believe that others’ interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more correct than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of action.

28

Private Acceptance

•  Conforming to other people’s behavior out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying
is right
•  Informational social influence often results in private acceptance!

29

Public Compliance

Conforming to other people’s behavior publicly without necessarily believing in what we are doing
or saying

30

The Importance of Being Accurate

Informational social influence affected by how important it is to make an accurate judgment
•  Eyewitness conformity when picking “perpetrators”out of police lineups
•  Manipulated importance of task
EXAMPLE:
(–  High-importance: Expect to receive $20 for accurate
identification, used to develop real task –  Low-importance: Just another PSYC experiment –  Confederates gave incorrect answers)