In their review of theory and research on motivation, Cofer and Appley ( 1964) remarked, "Dissonance theory (and its research) needs more anchoring in the concepts of prior work than it has had to date [ 1964, p. 798]." Cofer and Appley were concerned about a one-sided emphasis they saw in dissonance research at the time they wrote. Most psychologists agree that to designate a variable as "motivational" ascribes to it properties of energizing, directing, and reinforcing behavior. Berlyne ( 1964) has expressed this well: "To attack motivational problems means to seek factors that govern the organism's degree of alertness and activation, that bias the organism toward certain forms of behavior, and that determine what events will provide reinforcement for learning processes and how effectively [p. 488]."
Until 1964 nearly all research on cognitive dissonance had followed a simple and sovereign strategy. In experiments to validate dissonance theory, investigators aroused cognitive dissonance and then examined the subsequent dissonance-reducing effects. As we have already seen, numerous such effects have been accumulated in the experimental literature. While reliable experimental findings are welcomed by any theory, this body of evidence does not, by itself, make a conclusive case for the assertion that cognitive dissonance is a motivational variable. Consider the reliable patellar reflex (knee jerk) phenomenon. Typically individuals extend the leg in response to a tap on the patella. But few psychologists would wish to say that this response is performed in order to reduce a motivational tension state. We should also be reluctant to conclude that cognitive dissonance is a motivational variable simply on the basis of studies showing that dissonance arousal produces "dissonance-reducing" reactions.
It has been noted above that Berlyne lists three criteria by which we may judge a variable as motivational. One of these has to do with the impact of the variable____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Perspectives on Cognitive Dissonance. Contributors: Robert A. Wicklund - Author, Jack W. Brehm - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ. Publication year: 1976. Page number: 86.
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