COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

Posted: December 6, 2008 in seputar ilmu sosial
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COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IS PROPOSED AS A MECHANISM OF HOW SOCIAL INFLUENCE CAN PRODUCE ATTITUDE CHANGES.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is a theory of Leon Festinger’s stating that a state of dissonance (which is uncomfortable) is produced when there is an inconsistency between (A) two beliefs, or (B) between a belief and a behavior. For example, if I believe that cigarette smoking causes cancer, and I smoke cigarettes, then dissonance should occur. I am then motivated to reduce the dissonance by either stopping smoking or by changing my attitude about the smoking-cancer link (“The research is bad” “The super-light, low tar cigarettes I smoke couldn’t possibly cause cancer”). A study evaluating the mechanism of cognitive dissonance was done by:

FESTINGER AND CARLSMITH, who had subjects come into a research lab and engage in a dull, boring task for 1 hr. One group of subjects (the controls) then rated the enjoyment of the task on a scale of DULL (-5) through NEUTRAL (0) to EXCITING (+5). The remaining subjects were then deceived by the experimenter, who told them the following. “I would like you to help me out. I have to leave, and the other researcher just called in sick. Would you run the next subject for me? This study is really about the effects of expectancy on the rating of a task. You were in the control condition because we gave you no expectations about how enjoyable the task would be. The next subject is in the positive expectancy condition. All you have to do is talk to the next subject for a few minutes and explain to the subject how enjoyable the task is. I’m willing to pay you.”

Here there was another manipulation in the experiment; subjects were either offered $1 or $20 (today’s inflation would make these amount much greater). Subjects who agreed to lie to the next subject (who was really a confederate) then rated the enjoyment of the task on the -5 to +5 scale. According to the theory, the greatest dissonance should be produced in the $1 group (“Why am I lying to this person for so little money), less dissonance should be produced in the $20 group because they have a justification in being well-paid. Dissonance should produce attitude change in the $1 group, and it did. The $1 group actually rated the task as mildly enjoyable.

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