Reactions to Critical Life Events: A Social Psychological Analysis

Reactions to Critical Life Events: A Social Psychological Analysis

Reactions to Critical Life Events: A Social Psychological Analysis

Reactions to Critical Life Events: A Social Psychological Analysis

Synopsis

Inglehart synthesizes previous research on reactions to critical life events and proposes a new generalized principle of cognitive consistency, which integrates elements of cognitive consistency theory and attribution theory. This new theoretical approach offers several significant advantages over existing theories of reactions to critical life events, Inglehart argues, particularly in terms of its contribution to our understanding of the importance of specific moderator variables such as social support and individual differences.

Excerpt

When the concept of cognitive consistency was first introduced into social psychological research in the 1950s, it had enormous impact, giving rise to literally hundreds of publications. For over a decade, many of the most talented investigators in social psychology were stimulated and guided by consistency theory, which seemed to be building up a massive body of cumulative findings. a decade later, attribution theory had a similar impact. Mobilizing the best minds of that era, hundreds of studies were designed and carried out to investigate the role of attribution processes in human behavior. But by the 1970s, research on both cognitive consistency and attribution theory was dwindling. By 1990, they had become peripheral concerns to most social psychologists. This phenomenon raises the question, Is social psychology a cumulative science -- or is it simply driven by transient fashions, with today's hot topics destined to sink without a trace, a decade hence?

This book was written with the conviction that social psychology is a cumulative science, to a far greater degree than may be immediately evident. More specifically, this book argues that cognitive consistency theory and attribution theory can be integrated into one theory, the generalized principle of cognitive consistency -- and that this broader theory has important implications for much of contemporary social psychological research. in particular, it can help illuminate research on critical life events -- one of the most dynamic areas of current psychological research.

Why write a book about reactions to critical life events from a social psychological perspective? the first reason was a desire to make connections between seemingly isolated pieces of research: often brilliant in conception and execution, the sheer number and variety of the investigations in this field is staggering. I tried to develop a perspective that would allow me to organize and evaluate this research. a second reason was purely theoretical. When . . .

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