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1 LP 12A cog dis 1 Attitudes An attitude is a relatively stable evaluation of a person, object, situation or issue. This evaluation can be positive, negative, or ambivalent. Most attitudes have three s: a cognitive, emotional and behavioral. When we talk about attitudes, we could be talking about different s of an attitude. Cognitive: Your beliefs, thoughts, or ideas about the object of an attitude Emotional: Feelings and emotions about the object of an attitude Behavioral: A predisposition to act in a particular way For example, you could have an attitude towards exercise, gun control, abortion rights or sexist women.

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3 LP 12A cog dis 3 Attitude towards exercise Cognitive Exercise is good for your health Exercise is a good stress reliever Exercise improves my appearance Emotional Exercise makes me feel great Exercise is fun Behavioral I exercise every day I read articles about exercise I buy exercise equipment Your beliefs, thoughts, or ideas about the object of an attitude Feelings and emotions about the object of an attitude A predisposition to act in a particular way

4 LP 12A cog dis 4 Attitude towards gun control Cognitive Gun owners end up shooting themselves more often than they shoot thieves. Emotional Guns make me sick Behavioral I vote for guncontrol advocates whenever possible

5 LP 12A cog dis 5 Attitude towards abortion Cognitive Poor women suffer if they cannot obtain an abortion It is a woman s right to deal with her own body Emotional I like to make my own decisions It angers me when others restrict my rights Behavioral I intend to support legislative means to permit abortions I would consider getting an abortion if necessary

6 LP 12A cog dis 6 Sexist Attitude towards women Cognitive I believe women should be wives, not workers Emotional I get angry when I see a woman doing a man s job Behavioral I wouldn t hire a woman as a manager

7 LP 12A cog dis 7 When do attitudes predict behavior? Like traits, beliefs (the cognitive of attitudes) have a hard time predicting behavior. There are some conditions in which attitudes are likely to influence or determine behavior. You are more likely to behave in accordance with your attitudes when (page 595): Attitudes are extremely or are frequently expressed, Attitudes have been formed through direct experience, You are very knowledgeable about the subject, You have a vested interest in the subject. If you personally stand to gain or lose something on a specific issue, you re more likely to act in accordance with your attitudes, and You anticipate a favorable outcome or response from others for doing so.

8 LP 12A cog dis 8 Cognitive Dissonance An unpleasant state of psychological tension or arousal that occurs when two (or more) thoughts, perceptions or behaviors are inconsistent. Typically dissonance results from the awareness that attitudes and behaviors are in conflict. Once we are aware of these conflicts (whether conscious or not), we are motivated to reduce this tension. Belief behavior Smoking is bad for you I smoke

9 LP 12A cog dis 9 Reducing Dissonance Behavior and attitudes are inconsistent, tension arises. We are motivated to reduce this tension. When we notice a discrepancy, we are motivated to reduce it by changing the behavior, changing your attitude, distorting reality, thus allowing you to maintain your maintain your belief

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11 LP 12A cog dis 11 Distorting Reality to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance You can distort reality in many ways such as: explaining away the inconsistency, reducing the importance of the inconsistency, denying the behavior (denial), claiming that you are better than average, surrounding yourself with consonant information to make the inconsistency appear small relative to the consonant information (bolstering), saying that the inconsistency is necessary for a more important purpose (transcendence) o Lives are at stake, we are at war, it s for your own good claim that you were forced to be inconsistent, or using any of the ego defense mechanism. Important: Cognitive dissonance theory says nothing about the truth or falsity of the distortions we use to reduce anxiety. Cognitive dissonance theory only that we feel compelled to reduce the anxiety.

12 LP 12A cog dis 12 For example, If you believe that lying is wrong. What would you do if you lived in Germany and the Nazis knock on your door asking if you have seen any Jews? In fact, you are hiding a Jewish family in your attic. Do you lie? Most people say that lying is all right in this circumstance you are serving a higher moral purpose. Likewise, if you tell the Nazis where Jews are hiding, we may feel anxiety for helping a murder. When this occurs, we can use the just world belief. Likewise, when Neo-Nazis kill Jews, African- Americans, homosexuals, etc. they claim that they are serving a higher moral purpose (they know killing is wrong, but they killed and try to rationalize their behavior). Oliver North lied to Congress about his knowledge and involvement with the Iran-Contra scandal. He claimed that lying wasn t easy, but he was serving a more noble cause. Eco-terrorists know that they should not destroy property, but they claim they are serving a more noble purpose. In each example, they provide a rationale of serving a higher purpose. Dissonance theory says nothing about whether the claim is truthful or false.

13 LP 12A cog dis 13 This tension or anxiety is especially strong when we do not perceive an external cause for this inconsistency. If we perceive our behavior was coerced or the source of the inconsistency is external, there is little tension. However, if we are coaxed, we have nothing to attribute the contradictory behavior except ourselves.

14 LP 12A cog dis 14 In the book Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert Cialdini (1985) describes a good example of cognitive dissonance that helps students realize that cognitive dissonance influences their lives. The story is about a young woman who is involved in an unsatisfying relationship. Her boyfriend doesn t treat her well; he drinks too much, and he is unwilling to hold a steady job. Finally, she manages to break off the relationship with this man, and shortly thereafter, she meets a new fellow and falls deeply in love. This second relationship flourishes nicely and culminates in wedding plans; the date is set, the hall reserved, the invitations sent, and everything looks like it is turning up daisies for her until she receives a phone call from a repenting first boyfriend. At first the woman is unwilling to talk with him; after all, she is engaged to another man. But gradually her resolve weakens and she listens as he pleads for a second chance and promises her that he will change. To everyone s disappointment, she finally breaks off the engagement and goes back to her first boyfriend. At first, things go well for the woman, but as all of the students anticipate, it is not long before the boyfriend reverts back to drinking and treating her badly. What surprises students, however, is that the woman does not seem at all disappointed; indeed, she now seems happier, more committed, and more in love with him than ever before. What are the inconsistent behavior(s) and belief(s)?

15 LP 12A cog dis 15 Cognitive Dissonance Cognitive dissonance may explain the woman s odd reaction. We base our beliefs and feelings on our behavior. Hence, in this case, the woman concluded she loved the man precisely because she had given up so much for him. 1. Identify some inconsistencies that create psychological tension (cognitive dissonance) I m in a bad relationship I went back to my bad relationship when I was in a good relation Unhealthy relationships are bad for you I m a smart and sensible person (people don t choose bad relationships) 2. What are some ways to resolve these inconsistencies? 3. What beliefs about the self might make cognitive dissonance more likely?

16 LP 12A cog dis 16 Reducing Dissonance We have many attitudes and behaviors that are inconsistent with each other. It is difficult to notice these inconsistencies when they occur far apart in time. We may not recognize these discrepancies until someone points them out, or we reflect upon our own behavior. However, we might not WANT to recognize these inconsistencies because it would produce psychological tension to acknowledge we have these inconsistencies. These inconsistencies can threaten our self-concept.

17 LP 12A cog dis 17 Examples of inconsistencies: We want a smaller government We want lower taxes We believe education is important We want government out of our lives We want safer working conditions with a livable wage We want presidential debates that cover issues and have substance We know alcohol is dangerous We want people to tell the truth We want people to tell the truth Eating healthy is important Sleep is important We want a democracy with deliberation of the issues We want the government to provide more services We want the government to provide more services We don t fund it We want the government to regulate businesses (eg. Firestone, EPA, OSHA), etc. We want cheaper food, clothes, etc and/or buy sweatshop labor products We don t watch them because they aren t exciting or entertaining Many people use/abuse alcohol We shun those who tell the truth (eg. Jeffrey Wygand) We lie We eat at McDonalds We get less sleep than we should We want things to happen fast

18 LP 12A cog dis 18 Talking on the cell phone when driving is dangerous We talk on the cell phone while driving How do we rationalize these discrepancies?

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