ScienceBlog was right! Cognitive dissonance-type effects are safe.

In April of last year, Scienceblog discussed John Tierney’s coverage of Keith Chen’s argument against our work on choice-based preferences in children and monkeys:
http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/sorry-new-york-times-cognitive-dissonance-exists-15842.html

Keith’s critique pointed out a potential flaw in the original experiment. We’ve now published a replication of the previous study that uses a blind choice paradigm. Preferences cannot inform the initial choice in the new study, and it is therefore immune to Keith’s critique–if Keith is right, then we should not replicate the original effect. However, with the blind choice paradigm, we still find that when kids and monkeys reject an option, they prefer it less in future choices, compared with both a control no-choice condition and chance. The new study, which was in the works when Tierney published Keith’s critique in 2008, demonstrates that choices in themselves do create preferences, and is consistent with previous work demonstrating choice-based cognitive dissonance reduction.

The new paper is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and you can find it here:
http://tinyurl.com/yhvaq9k

Or on my website:
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/Faculty/Directory/Egan_Louisa.aspx#research

My best,
Louisa Egan


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