Attribution Theory vs Cognitive Dissonance - Michelle Canto

Attribution Theory

  • A student's feeling about abilities and how well he/she can do or understand something
  • Internal or external locus of control (One's own decisions or the environment)
  • Stable vs unstable (Can things change over time?)
  • Controllability (Skill or effort vs luck)

Cognitive Dissonance

  • Conflicting ideas in one's mind
  • Understanding vs understanding (Learning something new that contradicts what one previously thought was correct)
  • Understanding vs behavior (Knowing something is reliable but acting like it's not)

Similarities in Definitions

  • Both affect motivation.
  • Both reflect self-perception.
  • Both are internal disconnects between reality and self perception.
  • Both are defense mechanisms protecting self concept.
  • Both can either be productive or unproductive.
  • Both can turn into a serious impediment to learning.

Differences in Definitions

  • Attribution Theory has more factors than Cognitive Dissonance.
  • Cognitive Dissonance has more of a social aspect in terms of social justice.

Application

Attribution Theory

  • Education (Often in reading and math but can appear in any subject)
  • Law
  • Mental health

Cognitive Dissonance

  • Decision-making situations
  • Problem-solving situations
  • Social justice

Similarities in Application

  • When unproductive, correction needs external supports.
  • Teach explicitly for change so students can learn to think differently.

Differences in Application

  • Attribution Theory is more content specific while Cognitive Dissonance crosses content.

Implications for ID

  • Be aware of students' attribution of ability.
  • Use attitude surveys to determine what they understand about their abilities.
  • Know that cognitive dissonance can be OK especially in the area of social justice and can help new understandings take hold. Students need time to grapple with conflicting ideas.
  • Teaching growth and fixed mindsets helps students open their minds to learning.

Examples

Attribution Theory

High Achievers

  • High test score
  • Proud and confident
  • Success = ability

Low Achievers

  • High test score
  • Not proud and confident
  • Success = luck

Cognitive Dissonance

Smoking Nurse

  • Cancer ward
  • Knows dangers
  • Obesity rationale
  • Attitude vs behavior

Dallas ER Doctor

  • African American
  • Distrusts/dislikes cops
  • Sad he couldn’t save them all
  • Attitude vs attitude

Resources

Cullata, R. (2015). Attribution theory (B. Weiner). Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/attribution-theory.html
Cullata, R. (2015) Cognitive dissonance (Leon Festinger). Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/cognitive-dissonance.html
Gorski, P. (2009). Cognitive dissonance as a strategy in social justice teaching. Multicultural Education. 17, (1). 54-57. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ871366
Riley, R. (2016, July). Doctor who treated officers of Dallas shooting impeccably sums up cognitive dissonance some black men experience in America. Atlanta Black Star. Retrieved from http://atlantablackstar.com/2016/07/12/doctor-who-treated-officers-of-dallas-shooting-impeccably-sums-up-cognitive-dissonance-some-black-men-experience-in-america/
TEDxCanberra (producer). (2010) Ash Donaldson: Cognitive dissonance. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqONzcNbzh8
Weiner, B. (2010). The development of an attribution-based theory of motivation: a history of ideas. Educational Psychologist. 45, (1). 28-36. Retrieved from http://www.informaworld.com.libproxy.stcloudstate.edu/openurl?genre=article&id=doi:10.1080/00461520903433596