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FSU SPC 3210 - Chapter 17: Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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Chapter 17: Cognitive Dissonance Theory Festinger Objective; Socio-psychological $1/$20 study: Students were given a tedious, boring task. They were then asked if they could lie to others about the task and say it was fun. Some of the subjects were paid $20 and some were paid only $1. Majority of them agreed to lie, regardless of the pay. The difference appeared when the participants were questioned privately. The ones who lied for $20 confessed that they had thought it was boring, while the others maintained that it was quite enjoyable. They changed their attitude toward the task to reduce the dissonance between the two. Best way to stimulate an attitude change in others is to offer just enough incentive to elicit counter-attitudinal behavior. (Minimal Justification) Perspective of Attitude change: Attitude/behavior inconsistency - dissonance created - attitude change - dissonance reduced. Self-Consistency: A sense of personal responsibility, or self-affirmation can explain dissonance reduction. --Hypothesized 3 mental mechanisms people use to ensure their actions and attitudes are in harmony. Hypothesis 1: Selective Exposure Prevents Dissonance Avoid information that is likely to increase dissonance. Select information lined up with what they already believe. Ignore facts or ideas that counteract their beliefs. Selective exposure exists only when information is known to be a threat. Hypothesis 2: Postdecision Dissonance Creates a Need for Reassurance The more important the issue, the more dissonance. The longer an individual delays choice between equal options, the more dissonance. The greater the difficulty reversing the decision, the more dissonance. 2nd thought motivates us to seek reassurance after the decision is made. Hypothesis 3: Minimal Justification for Action Induces a Shift in Attitude Reverses conventional sequence; if you change behavior, one’s attitude will follow. Predicts that attitude change and dissonance reduction depend on providing minimal justification for the change in behavior. Assumptions of CD: Humans desire consistency in their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Dissonance is created by psychological inconsistencies. Dissonance is an aversive state that drives people to actions with measurable effects. Dissonance motivates efforts to achieve consonance and efforts to reduce dissonance. Premise: CD is an aversive drive that causes people to: Avoid opposing viewpoints Seek reassurance after making a tough decision Change private beliefs to match public behavior when there is MJ for an action. Reducing Dissonance through Perceptual Processes: Selective Exposure: avoid information that increases dissonance; seek information consistent with attitudes Selective Attention: Focus on consistent information Selective Interpretation: Interpreting ambiguous information so it becomes consistent. Selective Retention: Learning/Remembering consistent information with greater ability. Critique: Testability: explains away any falsibility. Hard to think of way theory can be proved wrong. No reliable way to detect degree of dissonance a person experiences. Concepts not clear. Not parsimonious. Not enough utility; how/when will we attempt to reduce dissonance?Chapter 20: Cultural Approach to Organizations Geertz & Pacanowsky Interpretive; Socio-cultural tradition Web Analogy: “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun” -Geertz Culture: Shared meaning, understanding, sense making. “We must concern ourselves with the process of spinning that web” -Pacanowsky Process of communication “creates and constitutes the taken-for-granted reality of the world. Corporate Culture: not just another piece of the puzzle; it is the puzzle. -Not just something an organization has, something it is. Co-cultures/subcultures: Cultural group within a larger cultural group. Counter-cultures: opposed to the dominant norm. Cultural performance: Actions by which members constitute and reveal their culture to themselves and others; ensemble of texts -Not experimental in search of law; interpretive in search of meaning. Ethnography: Mapping out social discourse; discovering who people within an culture think they are, what they think they’re doing, and to what end they think they’re doing it to. -See the organization as MEMBERS EXPERIENCE IT. -Observe as if one were a stranger in a foreign land. Thick Description: Record of the intertwined layers of common meaning that underlie what a particular people say and do. (powerful reconstructions.) Ethnographers must: Accurately describe talk and actions and context in which they occur. Capture the thoughts, emotions, and web of social interactions. Assign motivation, intention, or purpose to what people say and do. Artfully write this up so readers feel they’ve experienced the events themselves. Interpret what happened; explain what it means within this culture. Forms of Communication: Pacanowsky focused on imaginative language members used, they stories they told, and the nonverbal rites and rituals they practiced. Metaphor: clarifies what is unknown or confusing by equating it with an image that’s more familiar or vivid. -Can offer ethnographer a starting place for accessing the shared meaning of a corporate culture. 3 metaphors Pacanowsky used: Thought of Gore as a cluster of peasant villages in its passion for decentralization and its extraordinary orality. Saw Gore like a large provisional jazz group for its attraction for people who love to create something new but still want to fit in with other like-minded players. Compared the people at Gore to factions in Colonial America inasmuch as the majority of associates thought that the company’s innovative charter was the best thing since the invention of the wheel, yet a significant minority were cynical about the idealistic goals. Symbolic Interpretation of Story: Stories that are told over and over provide a convenient window through which to view corporate webs of significance. “Has a good story been told that takes you to the heart of the matter?” Pacanowsky suggests three types of narrative that dramatize organizational life. Corporate stories: carry the ideology of management and reinforce company policy. Personal stories: company personnel tell about themselves; often defining how they would like to be seen within the organization; put them in a favorable light. Collegial stories: positive or negative anecdotes


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