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.
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.
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