An Adaptive Connectionist Model of Cognitive Dissonance


This article proposes an adaptive connectionist model that implements an attributional account of cognitive dissonance. The model represents an attitude as the connection between the attitude object and behavioral-affective outcomes. Dissonance arises when circumstantial constraints induce a mismatch between the model’s (mental) prediction and discrepant behavior or affect. Reduction of dissonance by attitude change is accomplished through long-lasting changes in the connection weights using the error-correcting delta learning algorithm. The model can explain both the typical effects predicted by dissonance theory as well as some atypical effects (i.e., reinforcement effect), using this principle of weight changes and by giving a prominent role to affective experiences. The model was implemented in a standard feedforward connectionist network. Computer simulations showed an adequate fit with several classical dissonance paradigms (inhibition, initiation, forced compliance, free choice, & misattribution), as well as novel studies that underscore the role of affect. A comparison with an earlier constraint satisfaction approach (Shultz & Lepper, 1996) indicates that the feedforward implementation provides a similar fit with these human data, while avoiding a number of shortcomings of this previous model.

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@inproceedings{Overwalle2002AnAC, title={An Adaptive Connectionist Model of Cognitive Dissonance}, author={Frank Van Overwalle and Karen Jordens}, year={2002} }