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Theoretical and experimental evaluation of dissonance processes

Weinreich, Peter (1968) Theoretical and experimental evaluation of dissonance processes. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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An evaluation of Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance (1957) reveals deficiencies in its basic definition and the explanatory power of the "consistency-motivational" postulate. A radically different approach to attitude dynamics is proposed which focussed attention on the processes of appraisal and reappraisal, and on the psychological matrix within which these processes operate. An alternative explanation of dissonance reduction is linked with the postulated operation of processes that both conserve the organisation of the psychological matrix and, when transactions with the environment occur, enable a controlled modification of it to occur. The basic explanatory postulate, which is one of the efficient operation of these processes allows dissonance theory to be extended to pre-decision appraisal and to the prediction of decisions. Experimental evidence supports the derived decision theory. Three modes of appraisal are postulated, each of which may result in the arousal of dissonance. One mode is considered to be appraisal with respect to the status quo configurations of experimental evaluations and another to he appraisal with respect to the future orientation of current intentions and identifications; dissonances that become arroused in theme modes are regarded as emotive. The throd mode is regarded as involving the recognition of discrepancies between beliefs or expectations and corresponding actualities, or between the individual's opinions and those advocated by another; dissonance aroused in this mode is held to be cognitive. A replication of an experiment by Rosenberg and Abelson (1960) provides strong evidence of the interaction between modes of dissonance under the simultaneous operation of the three modes, but only partial support for the "balance" model. The present formulation integrates and relates features of the "social judgement" (Sherif et el, 1965), the "balance" (Rosenberg and Abelson, 1960) and the "congruity" (Osgood and Tannenbaum, 1955) approaches. New definitions allow quantitative estimates of dissonance to be ascertained.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1968 Peter Weinreich
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science

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