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1Application: Hypocrisy and Behavior Change
The research in the textbook shows a number of ways in which
dissonance causes people to rationalize or justify discrepant behavior. Whereas
rationalization can prevent people from learning from their mistakes,
dissonance can also be used to motivate people to make changes that benefit
them and society (i.e., pro-social behavior). An example of this can be found
in the research on using hypocrisy to induce dissonance and behavior change.
To prepare for this assignment:
Read the paper by Stone and colleagues (1994), paying
particular attention to the use of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance to
motivate people to practice safe sex. Article:
Stone, J., Aronson, E., Crain, A. L., Winslow, M. P., & Fried, C. B.
(1994). Inducing hypocrisy as a means of encouraging young adults to use
condoms. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(1), 116–128.
Think of the hypocrisy paradigm, pay particular attention to
how you would define and explain it, and consider ways that dissonance in
hypocrisy differs from dissonance in an induced compliance paradigm.
Think about how researchers test the effect of hypocrisy on
behavior and how it can be measured.
Consider the limitations in the Stone, et al., study and
think about how you might avoid them.
Then think about designing an induction of hypocrisy that
would motivate people to use sunscreen.
The assignment (1–3 pages):
Briefly define and explain the hypocrisy paradigm. How does
the dissonance in hypocrisy differ from the dissonance in the induced
compliance paradigm? Why do the researchers predict that hypocrisy motivates
people to change their behavior rather than their attitudes?
Explain how the researchers tested the effect of hypocrisy
on behavior change in this study. Specifically, describe who the subjects were,
what they did in each condition of the study, and how behavior change was
measured. Summarize the results of the study.
Assess and explain the problems you see with the study and
the conclusions drawn by the researchers. Describe two limitations to the study
and explain how they impact the results.
Design an induction of hypocrisy to motivate people to use
sunscreen more often when they spend time in the sun. Describe who the target
individuals would be and then explain how you would get them to make a public
commitment to the use of sunscreen and how you would make them mindful of past
failures to use sunscreen. Finally, explain how you would measure their
motivation to reduce dissonance by changing their behavior.