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The Origins of Cognitive Dissonance: Evidence From Children and Monkeys. Emily Slezak Morgan Wilbanks. Introduction. Cognitive Dissonance: “a psychological state in which an individual’s cognitions – beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors – are at odds” Interpreted as a negative feeling

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the origins of cognitive dissonance evidence from children and monkeys

The Origins of Cognitive Dissonance: Evidence From Children and Monkeys

Emily Slezak

Morgan Wilbanks

introduction
Introduction
  • Cognitive Dissonance:
    • “a psychological state in which an individual’s cognitions – beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors – are at odds”
    • Interpreted as a negative feeling
    • Motivated to resolve the contradiction
  • Still up for debate: developmental or evolutionary basis?
past studies
Past Studies
  • Aronson & Carlsmith (1963) - Children
  • Lewis (1964) - Rats
  • Friedrich & Zentall (2004) - Birds
basic methods
Basic Methods
  • Combined Comparative-Developmental Approach
  • Free-Choice Paradigm
    • Re-rating vs. Two Phase
  • Hypothesis:
    • If dissonance is experienced in phase one, then attitude towards unchosen item will change in phase two
child study methods
Child Study Methods
  • Subjects:
    • Thirty 4-year-olds
    • Tested in pre-schools or in the laboratory
  • Procedure
    • Assessed child’s preference for stickers with the smiley-face rating scale
    • Children competency for scale tested (See any issues with this scale?)
child study methods1
Child Study Methods
  • Procedure continued
    • Experimenter identified at least two triads of stickers the child liked equally
    • Each sticker within a triad was labeled A, B, or C
      • Phase one: choice between A & B
      • Phase two: choice between unchosen option in phase one and C
    • Choice vs. No choice conditions
    • Using at least two triads per child, the data was averaged across trials
capuchin study methods
Capuchin Study Methods
  • Subjects:
    • Six Capuchin Monkeys
      • Four adults and two adolescents (one subject group vs. two?)
  • Procedure
    • Experimenter determined differential preference for M&Ms based on retrieval time
      • Tested 20 times in two experimental sessions
capuchin study methods1
Capuchin Study Methods
  • Procedure continued
    • Equally preferred triads of M&M colors were identified
    • Choice and no choice conditions
results
Results
  • Children Study
    • “Children in the choice condition were more likely to prefer option C (63.0%) than were children in the no-choice condition (47.2%)”
      • evidence of resolving cognitive dissonance
  • Capuchin Study
    • “The monkeys chose option C more in the choice condition (60.0%) than in the no-choice condition (38.3%)”
    • The monkeys chose the unreceived option over the novel option more often in the no-choice condition
discussion
Discussion
  • Evidence for Cognitive Dissonance in human adults and children as well as non-human primates
  • Current study isolates reason for attitude change to be attributed to cognitive dissonance
    • The only difference being an intentional choice
  • Evidence for innate over developmental
    • Since 4-year-olds have some experience with cognitive dissonance, further studies with infants would be preferred
discussion1
Discussion
  • Core-knowledge mechanism
    • Possibly core aspects of cognition give rise to cognitive dissonance
    • Automatic response
    • Either mechanistically simpler than thought or assume less cognitively sophisticated individuals (children and monkeys) are more complex
egan bloom santos 2010
Egan, Bloom, Santos (2010)
  • Follow-up Study
    • Introduction of blind choice to eliminate prior preferences too fine-grained for measurement
    • Results
      • Both children and monkeys chose the third object, consistent with the original study
      • Indicating that they devalued the rejected object
      • Pattern did not occur when the subjects did not have a choice
      • Study gives evidence that there was not a prior preference, but that the choice itself induced preference