A Bridge to Consistency Theories
Attribution theory is sometimes considered as an informational or a “cold cognition” reaction to cognitive consistency models of the 1950s and 1960s, such as dissonance (Festinger, 1957) or balance (Heider, 1958), whose flavor was predominantly motivational, hence, depicting “hot cognition.” Indeed attribution theory and the cognitive consistency models project contrasting images of the person. Attribution theory projects a highly rational image that likens the lay individual to the sophisticated scientist or to a dispassionate seeker after truth. By contrast, cognitive consistency models convey a largely irrational image in which human judgments are strongly biased by needs, wishes, and desires. Because of such differences, the attribution and consistency paradigms have often been considered incompatible and have been pitted against each other in experimental research. A prominent example of such antagonism was the heated controversy between proponents of Bern’s (1967) self-perception theory and of Festinger’s (1957) dissonance theory (see Bern, 1972, and Wicklund and Brehm, 1976, for a review of this particular dispute).
KeywordsConsistency Theory Attribution Theory Logical Inconsistency Logical Contradiction Epistemic Model
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