Neither Cognitive, Nor Consistency – A Comment on Cognitive Consistency Theory in Social Psychology: A Paradigm Reconsidered, by Kruglanski, et al.
32 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2019
Date Written: November 22, 2018
In their article Cognitive Consistency Theory in Social Psychology: A Paradigm Reconsidered, Arie Kruglanski and colleagues effectively call for the retirement of the family of theories known as cognitive consistency theories, a move they characterize as a paradigm shift. We have deep reservations about the basic endeavor that underlies the target article. Seeking to supplant the CC paradigm with a model of affective reaction seems doomed to fail because affective arousal is inconsequential to the core essence and purpose of the family of CC theories. We are also unconvinced by the target article’s empirical critique. The manner in which the authors frame the CC paradigm seems to set it up for failure. The authors conceive of consistency in mechanical and narrow terms of information updating, they posit that any informational inconsistency should universally trigger a negative affective reaction, and imply that the arousal should overwhelm any other contemporaneous psychological state. We are also unimpressed by the Expectancy-Value Model proposed by the target article. The model’s linear and uni-directional flow robs it of the capability of capturing the bi-directional reasoning that lies at the core of structural dynamics, and which affords the ability to reconstruct the representation and restore the state of equilibrium. We also wonder about the novelty of the model in light of extant research on appraisal models of emotion, self-verification approaches, Subjective Expected Utility Theory, and even models of animal emotion. The authors of the target article would have us jettison the rich and impactful CCT in favor of a reductionist theory of affective reactions to good and bad news.
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