Theory Key Names
Annotated list of scholars and terms, from the Instructors Manual and margin notes in the text
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Chapter 16—Cognitive Dissonance
- Leon Festinger
- A former Stanford University social psychologist and creator of the theory of cognitive dissonance.
- Cognitive dissonance
- The distressing mental state caused by inconsistency between a person’s two beliefs or a belief and an action.
- Selective exposure
- The tendency people have to avoid information that would create cognitive dissonance because it’s incompatible with their current beliefs.
- Dieter Frey
- A German psychologist who concluded that selective exposure exists only when information is known to be a threat.
- Postdecision Dissonance
- Strong doubts experienced after making an important, close-call decision that is difficult to reverse.
- Minimal justification hypothesis
- A claim that the best way to stimulate an attitude change in others is to offer just enough incentive to elicit counterattitudinal behavior.
- Public conformity to another’s expectation without necessarily having a private conviction that matches the behavior.
- Counterattitudinal advocacy
- Publicly urging others to believe or do something that is opposed to what the advocate actually believes.
- Dissonance thermometer
- A hypothetical, reliable gauge of the dissonance a person feels as a result of inconsistency.
- Self-perception theory
- The claim that we determine our attitudes the same way that outside observers do—by observing our behavior; an alternative to cognitive dissonance theory.
- Elliot Aronson
- A University of California social psychologist who argues that cognitive dissonance is caused by psychological—rather than logical—inconsistency.
- Joel Cooper
- A Princeton University psychologist who argues that dissonance is caused by the knowledge that one's actions have unnecessarily hurt another person.
- Claude Steele
- A Stanford University psychologist who argues that high self-esteem is a resource for dissonance reduction.
- Patricia Devine
- A University of Wisconsin-Madison psychologist who believes that dissonance needs to be measured more accurately, particularly by a self-report measure of affect.
- Daryl Bem
- A Cornell University psychologist who argues that self-perception is a much simpler explanation of attitude change than is cognitive dissonance
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