Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Explorations in the Psychology of Choice: Does Choice Arouse Cognitive Dissonance?
Authors: Keller, Kyle Tinnell
Advisors: Cooper, Joel
Contributors: Psychology Department
Keywords: attitudes
cognitive dissonance
cognitive fluency
misattribution of arousal
vicarious dissonance
Subjects: Psychology
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957; Cooper, 2007; Harmon-Jones & Harmon-Jones, 2007) has been a mainstay in the field of social psychology for nearly 60 years, with its core message about the motivating nature of internal conflict. Brehm's (1956) free choice paradigm helped establish cognitive dissonance theory during its early years, but never received the battery of analyses and confirmations applied to other paradigms. Across five studies, the present research sought convergent evidence testing the question of whether or not choice arouses cognitive dissonance. Study 1 demonstrated that, when provided an alternative source to attribute their arousal, participants do not change their attitudes following a choice--consistent with previous research by Zanna and Cooper (1974). Study 2, however, was unable to replicate the findings of Study 1 when using a variant of the free choice paradigm with a behavioral measure of attitude change designed by Egan, Santos, and Bloom (2007). Results suggest that the behavioral measure may not measure dissonance in adults. Study 3 employed a lexical decision task to test whether activation in semantic memory functions as a mechanism for cognitive dissonance reduction; however its non-idiographic choice manipulation encountered difficulties in inducing cognitive dissonance and did not allow for a proper test of its hypotheses. Study 4 employed a cognitive fluency manipulation to provide an alternative operationalization of choice difficulty orthogonal to attitudinal similarity. Its results suggest that, rather than manipulating choice difficulty, cognitive disfluency induces task disengagement. Study 5 replicated vicarious dissonance (Norton, Monin, Cooper, & Hogg, 2003) using the free choice paradigm--providing the first evidence that choice can arouse dissonance vicariously. Taken in sum, results from Study 1 and Study 5 suggest that choice does induce cognitive dissonance. However, results from Study 2 suggest that not all versions of free choice are equal. Study 3 and Study 4 provide important starting points for further understanding and refining the free choice paradigm. Implications and future directions for the free choice paradigm are discussed.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Keller_princeton_0181D_11273.pdf1.03 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.