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Cognitive Dissonance
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Cognitive Dissonance

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  1. Cognitive Dissonance As conceived by Festinger and Carlsmith in: Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance (1959)

  2. Stimulus/Responseorthe realm of ‘Obvious Prediction’ • Stimulus creates Response • Cognition Unnecessary • Social Physics? • Deterministic vs. Probabilistic?

  3. Cognitive Dissonanceorthe realm of ‘Nonobvious Prediction’ • Counterintuitive • Refuting Behavioralism • Cognition as intervening factor within Stimulus/Response chain

  4. Unusual Empirical Observations(What to do?!?) • What had been observed…. • What were the dominant explanations? • Janis and King (1954; 1956) • Kelman (1953)

  5. Festinger’s Hypothesis • Opinion ‘X’ and public statement ‘not X’ • Dissonance (D) • Consonance (C) • Question: How might D and C relate to one another? Consider D1 to be total dissonance. Formulate a mathematical equation that describes how D and C interrelate to express D1.

  6. D1 = D / (D+C) • Hence: Total Magnitude of Dissonance (D1) increases the higher the proportion of dissonant factors over consonant factors becomes, with 1.0 being the impossible target of pure dissonance (100%). • Ex: D= 8 and C= 2 (or) 4

  7. Question… • What might happen if there were to be a situation in which a person were rewarded AND punished for the same behaviors at different times? (i.e.– C functionally becomes interchangeable with D inside the cognitive realm) What would the result likely be?

  8. Festinger’s Conclusion • ‘The magnitude of dissonance is maximal if… promised rewards or threatened punishments… [are] just barely sufficient to induce the person to say ‘not X.’ (56) • Thus: Insufficient Justification

  9. Insufficient Justification • ‘Insufficient justification’ (minimal consonance) creates maximal dissonance (an imbalance) that must be resolved by a negative drive state in cognition (i.e.– cognitive dissonance) which changes feelings to conform with behavior.

  10. The Experiment • Boring tasks, the missing assistant, the pretty girl, the money, and the lie. • The important questions: • Interesting/Enjoyable? (indicator of dissonance in action) • Scientific Value? • Question: Why? What’s the importance of this question?

  11. So… what about those alternative explanations? • Janis and King (1954; 1956) • Kelman (1953) • How do we know Festinger was right, and these folks were wrong?

  12. Furthering the Discussion • Harmon-Jones (2004) • ‘Contributions from Research on Anger and Cognitive Dissonance to Understanding the Motivational Functions of Asymmetrical Frontal Brain Activity.’ Biological Psychology v67, p. 51-76.

  13. Frontal Lobe Asymmetry • Left Frontal Lobe dominance vs. Right Frontal Lobe dominance • Physical/Psychological Health Issues • Depression, Behavioral Activation/Inhibition Sensitivity, Resting Baseline Frontal Asymmetry, Facial Expressions • Emotion and Motivation • Valence Model (positive & negative) • Motivation Model (approach & withdrawal) • Valenced Motivation Model

  14. Question… • Is something positive in valence always associated with approach motivations, and is something negative in valence always associated with withdrawal motivations? • What about greed? Can you think of any other examples?

  15. Possible Answers…. • Anger, mania, compulsive lust. • COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

  16. Why Cognitive Dissonance? • Negative Drive State AND Negative Affect • Dissonance is a signal that something is wrong and that it must be corrected through an approach motivational response. • the anterior cingulate cortex • The left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex • Dissonance  activation of the anterior cingulate cortex  activation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex  frontal lobe brain asymmetry

  17. Therefore…. • Because cognitive dissonance (a negative affect state with an approach motivational aspect) is associated with increased left frontal lobe activity, the valence and valenced motivational models are untenable. Previous research has confounded valence with motivation. Only the motivational model of frontal lobe asymmetry holds water.

  18. Final Question: • Since: Cognitive Dissonance = Approach Motivational Cognitive Activity • Given: The example of Public Accountability and the question of Approachability • Might this be a new variable of study regarding cognitive dissonance?

  19. The End.