Use of cognitive dissonance to produce changes in the attitudes and behavior of economically disadvantaged first grade children

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Teresa Martin Leonhardt (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Frances Dunham

Abstract: This study was undertaken to investigate the possibility of using mild threat of punishment to produce dissonance in economically disadvantaged children. Sixty subjects, 20 in each of three groups, counterbalanced for race and sex, were tested individually. Three levels of threat were used to discourage children from playing with a toy they had rated as attractive: no threat, but removing the toy from the room; mild threat; and strong threat. Two measures of dissonance were used: first, a change in ranking of the forbidden toy and second, the number of minutes the child played with the forbidden toy when the prohibition was removed. The measure was taken on the day of the original testing and again several weeks later. Predictions derived from dissonance theory are as follows: (1) the group which received the mild warning should experience dissonance for not having played with the forbidden toy and rank it lower or play with it less; (2) the group which received the strong warning would feel no dissonance and not change rank of toy or play with it less; (3) the group which received no warning should not lower the rank or play with it less. Chi-squares on the number of subjects in the three groups who ranked the toy higher, did not change the rank, and ranked the toy lower were insignificant. An analysis of variance and two t-tests on number of seconds of play indicated that the mild group played differentially in the two play periods: the mild group played least during the first period and most in the second period. The results seem to indicate that any initial beneficial effects of dissonance as a behavioral control technique with economically disadvantaged children are not maintained across time.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1969
Cognitive dissonance
Threat (Psychology)
Discipline of children

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