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					      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                            Chapter 7




Chapter Seven
 Attitude Change
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


              Dissonance Theory
• Cognitive dissonance theory is based on a
  small set of principles
  – cognitions can be either consistent or
    inconsistent with one another
  – inconsistent cognitions produce
    dissonance
  – dissonance can be reduced by changing
    our attitudes, changing our behavior, or
    adding a third cognition to mediate
    between the other two
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


    An Example of Cognitive Dissonance
• Your professor holds the attitude “No make-
  up exams”
• You persuade the professor to give you a
  make-up
• The professor’s attitude and behavior are
  now dissonant with one another
  – the professor will be motivated to reduce
    her cognitive dissonance
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


            Dissonance Reduction
• Options available to our professor:
  – change the behavior: not likely, the make-
    up exam’s been given
  – change attitude: maybe
     • professor might decide that make-up
       exams aren’t so bad after all
  – find a mediating element: could be
     • professor might still hold attitude, still
       perform behavior, but decide it’s a one-
       time event
                     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                           Chapter 7


     How Dissonance Reduction Works
• To reduce dissonance and restore
  consonance, an individual might:
  – change her attitude to be consonant with
    her behavior
  – change her behavior to be consonant with
    her attitude
  – maintain both the attitude and the
    behavior, but introduce an additional
    cognition to restore consonance between
    them both
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


    Early Research: Induced Compliance
• Festinger and Carlsmith (1959)
   – people engage in a boring task
   – these same people convince others that
     the task is fun and enjoyable
   – some people get paid $1 for saying this,
     others get paid $20 for saying this
• The $1 group showed greater positive
  attitude change
• Brought their attitudes in line with behavior
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                          Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                                Chapter 7


     Early Research: Effort Justification
• Aronson and Mills (1959)
  – severity of initiation leads to greater liking
    for the group
• Dissonance reduction is used to justify the
  expenditure of effort
  – “this is horrible…I must really like it”
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                           Chapter 7


        Early Research: Free Choice
• Festinger (1957)
  – having to choose between two desirable
    alternatives can produce dissonance
  – the bad elements of the chosen alternative
    are dissonant with the decision
  – the good elements of the unchosen
    alternative are dissonant with the decision
  – people engage in post-decision dissonance
    reduction to restore consonance
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


   Post-Decision Dissonance Reduction
• As a consequence of having to choose one of
  two desirable alternatives, people will:
  – improve their evaluation of the chosen
    alternative
  – lower their evaluation of the unchosen
    alternative
• Doing so reduces dissonance and restores
  consonance
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


              Self-Perception Theory
• An alternative to dissonance theory
  – perhaps people simply observe their own
    behavior and infer their own attitudes from
    it
  – “I’m eating pistachio ice cream; I must like
    pistachio ice cream”
  – “I did the boring task; I must like the boring
    task”
• Self-perception works best with weak
  attitudes
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


      Impression Management Theory
• An alternative to dissonance theory
  – people want to make a good impression
  – in dissonance studies, they may not want
    to appear inconsistent
  – self-presentation goals would predict their
    behavior
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


           Self-Affirmation Theory
• An alternative to dissonance theory
  – people want to view themselves as moral,
    capable individuals
  – counterattitudinal behavior threatens these
    feelings of self-worth
  – people change their attitudes to reduce
    these threats to self-worth
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


        Recent Research: Hypocrisy
• Early dissonance research focused on the
  negative consequences of behavior
• Even people who promote a proattitudinal
  position can experience dissonance
  – hypocrisy produced by advocating a
    proattitudinal position but engaging in
    counterattitudinal behavior leads to
    dissonance
  – if you promote conservation, you’d better
    recycle!
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


  Recent Research: Individual Differences
• Preference for Consistency (PFC) measures
  individual differences in wanting predictability
  and consonance
• Individual differences may mediate the effects
  found in traditional dissonance research
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


Recent Research: Explicit/Implicit Attitudes
• Almost all research on dissonance theory has
  focused on explicit attitudes
• Recent research has examined dissonance
  and implicitly-held attitudes
  – dissonance affects explicit attitudes
  – dissonance has little effect on changing
    implicit attitudes
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


        Cognitive Response Theory
• Information-based persuasive communication
  also changes attitudes
• Cognitive response theory argues that the
  effectiveness of an attitude change message
  depends on the thoughts evoked by that
  message
  – positive thoughts lead to adoption of the
    advocated position
  – negative thoughts lead to rejection of the
    advocated position
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                           Chapter 7


              Argument Strength
• Strong arguments tend to produce strong
  attitudes
  – strong attitudes should predict greater
    attitude change
• Weak arguments tend to produce weak
  attitudes
  – weak attitudes provide poor support for the
    advocated position
                        Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                              Chapter 7


          Processing the Message
• Strong arguments should be presented in a
  clear way
  – capitalize on target’s uninterrupted
    processing of good arguments
• Weak arguments may fare better with
  distraction present
  – you don’t want the target to pay a lot of
    attention to lousy arguments!
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


             Heuristic Persuasion
• Heuristic persuasion relies on factors other
  than the strength of the arguments presented
  – relevance of the message
  – credibility of the communicator
  – likeability of the communicator
  – attractiveness of the communicator
  – positive mood and emotion
                         Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                               Chapter 7


         Two Routes to Persuasion
• Systematic processing occurs when people
  attend to and think about the message
• Heuristic processing occurs when people rely
  on simple cues to make judgments, rather
  than the strength of the arguments
• Central route processing is analogous to
  systematic processing
• Peripheral route processing is analogous to
  heuristic processing
     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                           Chapter 7




Concept Review
                     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                           Chapter 7


           Motivation and Ability
• Systematic/central route processing when:
  – the recipient of the message is motivated
    to expend the energy needed to process
    the information
  – the recipient of the message has the ability
    to process the information
                        Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                              Chapter 7


Personal Relevance & Message Complexity
• An attitude change message should be
  relevant to the target
  – if not, little attitude change
• Undue message complexity should work
  against attitude change
  – if you can’t understand the message, it
    makes it difficult to process the message
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


     Effects of Aging on Attitude Change
• Null hypothesis: no age-related changes
• Increasing persistence: people become more
  resistant to influence as they age
• Impressionable years: lots of attitude change
  when young, less when older
• Life stages: greater susceptibility to
  persuasion when young, again when old
   – this is an issue that has not been settled
Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                      Chapter 7
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


    Effects of Culture on Attitude Change
• People from collectivist cultures may not feel
  the same urge to behave in ways that are
  consistent with their attitudes
  – this would reduce the effects of cognitive
    dissonance in shaping behavior
• Collectivism may also predict differences in
  responses to persuasive messages
                     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                           Chapter 7


   Persuasion and Health: Fear Appeals
• The arousal of fear has been used in many
  health-related attitude change messages
  – Protection Motivation Theory describes this
    process
     • believe the problem is severe
     • assume personal susceptibility
     • believe the steps to ameliorate
     • capable of performing those steps
                      Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                            Chapter 7


                  Propaganda
• Persuasion that is motivated by a specific
  ideology and that is biased in its presentation
  – wars often inspire propaganda messages
  – cults often inspire propaganda messages
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


        Aspects of Cult Indoctrination
• Selective targeting of potential recruits
• Isolation of recruits
• Sleep deprivation
• Love-bombing
• Repetition
• Foot-in-the-door
• Denial of privacy
• Reciprocity
• Fear-mongering
                       Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                             Chapter 7


            Everyday Propaganda
• Common sources of a biased message
 promoting a specific ideology:
  – advertising
  – movies and television
  – education
  – religious institutions
                     Social Psychology Alive, Breckler/Olson/Wiggins
                                                           Chapter 7


            Resisting Persuasion
• Inoculation
  – exposure to a weakened form of
    arguments makes us less susceptible to
    attitude change
• Reactance
  – limits to personal freedom lead to motives
    to restore that freedom
• Personal preparation against unscrupulous
  attitude change messages is a good idea

				
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