All sources must be within the past 5 years.
Cognitive dissonance is a state of disequilibrium between two or more conflicting
cognitions (e.g., beliefs, behaviors, or values). This assignment will allow you to explore
the connection between self-attribution and cognitive dissonance.
The paper describes the connection between self-attribution and cognitive dissonance.
Include the following in your paper:
- A summary of the research regarding the theoretical and empirical approaches to
understanding the mental processes of self-attribution and cognitive dissonance.
- A discussion of how nature and nurture influence self-attribution and thereby affect
- A discussion of why individuals are motivated to resolve cognitive dissonance and
how this is related to self-attribution.
Cognitive dissention theory is very important in the study of behavior and attitudes of
one self. It is where divergences between attitude and behavior are observed in the social
aspects of a human being (Cheng & Hsu, 2012). This varies with individual’s social
cognition, how an individual conceptualizes the world around him (Baron et al, 2009), and is
therefore important to understand how these two are intertwined. While all these are put into
considerations, one question remains, what is the connection between self-attribution and
cognitive dissonance? This paper seeks to discuss the aspects of social cognition and self-
attribution and present it to the social psychology class for more discussion.
Self-attribution and cognitive dissonance
Self-attribution theory refers to an individualized way of explaining the events that
happen to them and how it relates with behavior and attitude. Kelly’s theory of causal
attribution seeks to gain understanding as to why people act the way they do or why events
turn out in a particular way (Baron et al, 2009). This knowledge can help in making sense of
the social world and assess how behavior stems from internal causes, for example, traits,
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motives and intentions, or external causes which have to do with some aspect of the social
world. The attribution processing is well-versed by three types of facts.
The first one is consensus, where the focus is on the extent to which other people relate to
a given stimulant or event in the same manner as the person being considered, for example,
student’s attribution will affect learning outcome (Wang et al, 2008). Secondly, consistency
which is the extent to which an individual responds to a given stimulus or situation in the
same way on different occasions and in a particular time frame. This may bring out personal,
internal traits and if inconsistency is observed, it will imply that attitude and behavior will be
adversely affected (Vinski & Tryon, 2009). The last fact is distinctiveness and it the extent in
which a person reacts in the same manner to another, a stimuli or an event. This theory,
therefore, seeks the causal factors influencing behavior and the stability over a time; and how
likely they it can change. These three factors will influence the behavior pattern of an
individual. Self-attribution theory, for that reason, becomes the main tool that cognitive
dissonance uses to study human behavior and attitudes in a given period of time.
Nature and Nurture influence on attribution
Personality traits or temperaments are examples of stable internal causes of behavior. Non
stable internal causes may include motives, health or fatigue. Individuals can learn to stem
their traits like anger; or deal with some chronic illness like tuberculosis or disabilities, thus
making them controllable. For instance, society’s beliefs, taboos, and social norms are
examples of stable external causes. Situational factors like bad luck are examples of unstable
causes. These three dimensions, internal and external, stable and unstable, controllable and
uncontrollable, are important in trying to understanding causes of people’s behavior and how
they are shaped by nature or nurture. In other words, nature or environmental factors,
correlates closely with nurture or genetic heredity, and therefore they cannot be separated
(Wermter et al, 2009).
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When individuals think about events in their lives in abstract terms, they will tend to
emphasize the impact of nature like effects of summer or winter seasons on the body. In
addition, this mode of thinking is relative when they think more concretely. As a result, most
people tend to perceive their own actions as an important factor in their experiences. Such
knowledge can be credited to the effect of nurture, thus strengthening the importance of
nature on nurture.
Application of attribution theory
Attribution is used to understand and devise intervention strategies of depression.
Moreover, people who are whole tend to attribute positive events to lasting internal causes
like their talents, resilience and diligence; and negative events to temporary external causes
like bad lack, or situational constrains. Depressed people on the other hand exhibit the
opposite pattern. They attribute negative outcomes to lasting internal causes like helplessness
and positive outcomes to positive external outcomes like good luck. Depression can be
treated by changing these harmful patterns. Whether positive or negative, an individual’s
effort to discover these patterns is commendable and it can be reinforced through self-
attribution concepts application. This tendency to attribute negative outcomes to external
factors and positive outcomes to internal factors is referred to as self-serving bias (Krusemark
et al, 2008). If this thought pattern persists, then the way an individual behaves and the
attitude patterns will paint a cognitive impression and this will affect the individual’s
In most cases, many people usually seek for ways to justify their actions. Similarly,
significant others tend to enquire the reasons as to why people whom they relate with will act
the way they do so that they can understand them better and better. This thought pattern is
likely to form impressions about self and others which will therefore dictate the level of
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dissonance towards that particular person. The head impressions, on the other hand, will
prompt the mind of the self to interpret the behavior or attitude whose result will be
individualistic in approach. it will therefore require self-attribution aspects to make meaning
out of this approach.
Different people have different behavior patterns. Likewise, different people have
different way of arguing things. As a result, different outcomes are inevitable and hence,
theoretical and empirical interventions are needed to bring harmonization of these different
outcomes. Cognitive dissonance approaches and interventions have been discovered to help
in such like situations and thus it becomes salient to use it in social cognitions.
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Baron, A. et al. (2009). social psychology. Boston: Pearson Education.
Cheng, P. & Hsu, P. (2012). Cognitive dissonance theory and the certification examination:
The role of responsibility. Social Behavior and Personality, 1103-1112.
Krusemark, W. et al. (2008). Attributions, Deceptions, and event related potentials:
investigation of the self-serving bias. Psychophysiology, 511-515.
Vinski, E. & Tryon, G. (2009). Study of a Cognitive Dissonance Intervention to Address
High School Student’s Cheating Attitude and Behaviours. ethics and Behavior, 218-
Wang, Y. et al. (2008). Characteristics of distance learners: research on relationships of
learning motivation, learning strategy, self-efficacy, attribution and learning results.
Open Learning, 17-28.
Wermter, A. et al. (2010). From the nature versus nurture, via nature and naurture to gene x
environment interaction in mental disorders. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 199-210.