Cognitive consistency and performance in the autokinetic situation

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An experiment was conducted testing certain implications of a balance or cognitive consistency model of behavior. It was hypothesized that a person (P) would respond to another person's (O's) judgments of light movement in the autokinetic situation as a function of the attraction relationship between them and the initial similarity in their judgments. By using an assistant playing the role of another S, it was possible to manipulate experimentally P's liking or disliking of O, and the initial discrepancy between P's and O's judgments of light movement. As compared with a condition of cognitive balance, under the conditions of cognitive imbalance—where either P likes O and initially is dissimilar to O or P dislikes O and initially is similar to O—we find a greater tendency for P to change his own judgments of the light movement, and to feel anxious or nervous while making these judgments. In addition, we find the direction of P's judgmental change is such as to increase his similarity to O when he likes O and to decrease this similarity when he dislikes O. These findings are taken as supporting a cognitive consistency model of interpersonal behavior and as having broad implications for the area of social influence and conformity. (18 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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