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Actions can direct attitudes:

Leon Basic meaning: lack of agreement
Festinger Cognitive Dissonance:
When our actions are not
in harmony with our


Behavior inconsistent
with the attitude

Cognitive Dissonance Theory (1957):

the observation that we tend to
resolve this dissonance by changing Creation of
our attitudes to fit our actions. We dissonance
want consistency in our thoughts and
Actions can direct attitudes:
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
(Festinger, 1957)
• When a person’s thoughts or actions are inconsistent,
he/she will want to reduce the tension between them.
• Ways to reduce dissonance:
• Change actions (difficult)
• Change beliefs (easier)

You have a
belief that But you
cheat on a The teacher
cheating on a was really
test is bad. test!!!
bad so in
that class it
is OK.
Actions can direct attitudes:
Attitude: “I’m not going to smoke cigarettes anymore”)
Behavior: Smoke cigarettes

Some Options
1) Change behavior (e.g., Throw pack away)

2) Change cognitions (e.g., “Smoking isn’t all that bad”; “I don’t

really smoke that much”)

3) Add supporting cognitions (e.g., “ Smoking relaxes me” “it

helps me think better”)
Actions can direct attitudes:
COGNITIVE ▪ Getting paid more: “I
DISSONANCE was paid to say that.”
(no dissonance)
▪ Getting paid less: “Why
CARLSMITH (1957) would I say it was fun?
(1$ - $20 Study) Just for a dollar? Weird.
Maybe it wasn’t so bad,
now that I think of it.”
Asked to tell participant
Perform that the task was
boring task interesting $1
$20 task
• Which group rated the task as more interesting after lying,
those paid $1 or $20?
Key is lack of sufficient external justification for one’s behavior
Actions can direct attitudes:

What is the “action” of the worker in this cartoon?

What is the attitude that the dog is implanting in the worker?

How does this demonstrate the cognitive dissonance theory?

Actions can direct attitudes:
The Cognitive Dissonance Song, by Steve Jones
Actions can affect attitudes:
Social Thinking:
Small Compliance Large Compliance
A political campaigner asks if
you would open the door just
enough to pass a clipboard
through. [Or a foot]
You agree to this.

Then you agree to sign a

Then you agree to make
a small contribution.
By check.

What happened
Actions can affect attitudes:
Social Thinking:
Small Compliance Large Compliance
The Foot-in-the-Door
Phenomenon: the
tendency to be more
likely to agree to a large
request after agreeing
to a small one. Key point students
often miss!!

Affect on attitudes: People adjust their

attitudes along with their actions, liking
the people they agreed to help, disliking
the people they agreed to harm.
Is this foot-in-the-door?

©John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2007 Huffman:

Psychology in Action (8e)
The Door-in-the-Face Phenomenon: Presenting a
unreasonable or “large” offer first, followed by a
more reasonable, “smaller” offer second.
1. Bill is thoughtful and likes to mull over ideas. Ted is uncomfortable with uncertainty. If
you are trying to persuade them about an important referendum on the November ballot,
you would be best to use ____________ on Bill and ____________ on Ted.
2. Samantha rushes into her dorm room and yells at her roommate for leaving a mess
on Samantha's desk. Samantha’s roommate believes Samantha is a person who is
easily irritated. She has made a ______________ attribution of Samantha’s action.
3. A major assumption of Cognitive Dissonance Theory asserts that people seek to
have _____________ in their cognitions.
A. Dissonance C. Consistency
B. Logic D. Variety

A 4.
Which of
the ads
would most
effective in
changing C
Actions can affect attitudes:
Role Playing
• Role: Set of
connected with
particular social
• “Playing college”
• Several studies
have documented
this effect,
including a study
by Philip
Zimbardo, known
as the Stanford
Prison Study.