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Religious concept activation attenuates cognitive dissonance reduction in free-choice and induced compliance paradigms


Forstmann, Matthias; Sagioglou, Christina (2020). Religious concept activation attenuates cognitive dissonance reduction in free-choice and induced compliance paradigms. Journal of Social Psychology, 160(1):75-91.

Abstract

Past research suggests that religion imbues people with a sense of certainty - via an increase in personal control, by providing meaning in life, or by activating associated norms. Based on findings suggesting that uncertainty and cognitive dissonance share many underlying features, we investigated whether thinking about religion, either situationally or chronically, buffers against cognitive dissonance. In four methodically diverse studies, we found converging support for this hypothesis. Semantically or symbolically activating Christian religious concepts, as well as being a self-reported believer, attenuated participants' need to reduce post-decisional dissonance via a spreading of alternatives in a free-choice paradigm (Studies 1, 2, & 4) as well as after counterattitudinal advocacy in an induced compliance paradigm (Study 3). The attenuation of post-decisional dissonance was found for a US American online sample (Studies 1 & 4) and for German university students in a laboratory setting, where the dissonance-inducing decision had factual consequences (Study 2).

Abstract

Past research suggests that religion imbues people with a sense of certainty - via an increase in personal control, by providing meaning in life, or by activating associated norms. Based on findings suggesting that uncertainty and cognitive dissonance share many underlying features, we investigated whether thinking about religion, either situationally or chronically, buffers against cognitive dissonance. In four methodically diverse studies, we found converging support for this hypothesis. Semantically or symbolically activating Christian religious concepts, as well as being a self-reported believer, attenuated participants' need to reduce post-decisional dissonance via a spreading of alternatives in a free-choice paradigm (Studies 1, 2, & 4) as well as after counterattitudinal advocacy in an induced compliance paradigm (Study 3). The attenuation of post-decisional dissonance was found for a US American online sample (Studies 1 & 4) and for German university students in a laboratory setting, where the dissonance-inducing decision had factual consequences (Study 2).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Psychology
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:20 Jan 2021 14:20
Last Modified:21 Jan 2021 21:05
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0022-4545
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2019.1609400
PubMed ID:31056019

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