Explorations in Cognitive Dissonance

By Jack W. Brehm; Arthur R. Cohen | Go to book overview

Expectations and inequity: a dissonance approach 10

DISSONANCE AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EXPECTATIONS

An interesting extension of dissonance theory to the issue of expectations has been made by Aronson ( 1960). This extension of the theory is based on the assumption that the dissonance occasioned by commitment to a discrepant position, for instance, is due to the discrepancy between: (1) one's expectation that, as a rational man, he will behave wilth integrity and (2) the cognition that one did not behave with integrity. Aronson says that many of the research findings growing out of the dissonance formulation can be interpreted as attempts on the part of the individual to confirm expectancies. Taking account of the individual's expectancy is necessary in order to determine what is inconsistent with what; the events that confirm expectancies are consonant, sought out, while the events that disconfirm expectancies are dissonant, to be avoided, minimized, or cognitively distorted so as to render them more consonant.

Aronson's theory leads him to the position that the confirmation of expectancies is one of the central motivating forces in human behavior. Thus persons will at times seek out failure, punishment, frustration, and so on, in order to confirm expectations regarding the nature of their self-concept.

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