Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A revised theory of cognitive consistency
by Fletcher, Jesse Bradford, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2010, 172; 3433846
Abstract (Summary)

Decades of social psychological research have rested upon a simple assumption: people prefer incoming information to be consistent with their existing understandings of the social world. This simple premise, known as the cognitive consistency principle, is the foundation for many of the most prominent theories in sociological social psychology (e.g. affect control theory, justice theory, expectation states theory, identity theory, etc.). However, increasing evidence has accrued that suggests that this principle may be incorrect, or at least incomplete. This study reviews three well-established areas of research that challenge the cognitive consistency principle (over-reward/self-enhancement, amusement, varied experience theory), and reveals that all three areas point to an overarching truth: social actors often experience positive emotion or pleasure from small levels of cognitive inconsistency. In light of this, a modified cognitive consistency principle is formulated, and hypotheses are offered and tested using paired internet surveys and panel-clustered random-effects maximum-likelihood regression. Data supports a modified cognitive consistency principle which posits that actors can experience positive emotions and pleasure at low levels of cognitive inconsistency.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burke, Peter J.
Commitee: Hanneman, Robert A., Turner, Jonathan H.
School: University of California, Riverside
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 72/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Social psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Cognition, Cognitive consistency, Emotion, Formalization, Meaning, Pleasure, Theory
Publication Number: 3433846
ISBN: 978-1-124-40003-7
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