Thinking Twice

Authors: Lilleker, D.G.

Pages: 134-150

DOI: 10.1057/9781137313430_8


Psychological studies suggest that humans fundamentally prefer, and so seek, cognitive consistency (McGuire, 1960). The good guys are always good, the bad guys bad; even if the bad guy displays a degree of altruism it is likely this will be judged as driven by self-centred motives. Cognitive consistency is a function of attitudes, built from what has been learned from human experiences. Basically, should a policy be supported or opposed, or should any individual, political party, organisation or high-street brand be liked, supported through voting or purchasing behaviour, or eschewed (Bem, 1981)? Strong attitudes are formed when information consistently indicates where the individual, issue or brand sits in relation to our values. If the information suggests shared values, the attitude will be positive; the stronger the attitude, the stronger the emotional attachment; negative attitudes follow a reverse pattern. Attitudes, as pointed out earlier, are based upon our schema: all the stored information regarding an individual, an issue or a brand. If when forming a summation of the information about an individual, an issue or a brand we find on balance this is highly positive, we do not want this to become cluttered with negatives. It would mean a re-evaluation of the attitudes formed on the basis of the schema. It is argued that to prevent this happening in the context of issue politics we selectively consume media content.

Source: Scopus