Year of Publication

2014

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)

Department

Psychology

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Ashley Batts Allen

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Leone

Department Chair

Dr. Michael Toglia

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick

Abstract

Cognitive dissonance occurs when someone engages in a counter-attitudinal behavior that has negative consequences. In the present study whether moderators such as self-monitoring and self-compassion impact the experience of dissonance. Specifically, high self-monitors should experience less dissonance than low self-monitors because of their propensity to alter their opinions based on the social cues around them and not be as attached to their opinions as low self-monitors. Self-compassion may also moderate the dissonance effect in that more self-compassionate individuals may handle the experience of dissonance with more self-kindness and subsequently experience less dissonance than participants with low self-compassion. Participants (N = 331, 76% women, Mage= 22.5) completed an online survey where they expressed their opinion on a variety of ethical issues on a 15 point scale. Participants were then asked to write a counter-attitudinal essay on the ethical issue of capital punishment. If participants indicated previously that they supported capital punishment then they were asked to write against capital punishment, and vice versa for those who initially indicated being against capital punishment. Perception of choice was manipulated such that participants were given no choice to write according to the instructions or participants had a perceived choice in their writing topic. They were then asked to respond to several dependent variable measures and predictor variables including the full self-monitoring and self-compassion scales. Overall, participants experienced cognitive dissonance from writing the essay, and self-monitoring moderated participants’ experience of cognitive dissonance. Self-compassion did not moderate the dissonance effect; however, self-compassion interacted with dissonance to impact participants’ endorsement of moral values. These findings suggest cognitive dissonance effects can be extended to moral attitudes, and self-monitoring may impact people’s individual dissonance experiences.

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