Ferenczis Catastrophe Theory See Catastrophe Theorymodel

FERRY-PORTER LAW. = Porter's law. This principle - named in honor of the American physicist Ervin Sidney Ferry (1868-1956) and the English scientist Thomas Cunningham Porter (1860-1933) - states that critical flicker frequency (cf) increases by equal amounts for equal increases in the logarithm of the brightness/intensity of the stimulus. This generaliza-

tion is independent of the wavelength composition or color of the stimulus. Cff is the frequency of intermittence of a visual stimulus just necessary to eliminate the sensation of "flicker," where the flicker phenomenon is defined as a rapid periodic change perceived in a visual impression due to a corresponding rapid periodic change in the intensity or some other feature of the stimulus. Flicker disappears when the frequency of the stimulus change exceeds the cff rate, which is about 25 to 30 hertz [1 hertz, or HZ, = one cycle per second; this unit of measurement is named in honor of the German physicist Heinrich Rudolph Hertz (1857-1894)]. The cff rate is somewhat higher at higher intensity levels and lower for lower intensities, and the rate is lowered, also, with decrease in the intensity difference between parts of the sequence or period. The Ferry-Porter law holds only over a very limited range of conditions, and this is particularly evident when considering the variations in the character of temporal modulation of the extant stimulus. The law does not hold at all for very low modulation amplitudes. See also TALBOT-PLATEAU LAW; VISION/SIGHT, THEORIES OF. REFERENCES

American Journal of Science, 44, 192-207.

Porter, T. C. (1902). Contributions to the study of flicker. II. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 70A, 313-329.

Porter, T. C. (1912). Contributions to the study of flicker. III. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 86A, 495-513.

Brown, J. (1965). Flicker and intermittent stimulation. In C. Graham (Ed.), Vision and visual perception. New York: Wiley.

FESTINGER'S COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY. = cognitive dissonance theory = dissonance theory. The American psychologist Leon Festinger (1919-1989) developed the theory of cognitive dissonance, which is based on the tenet that an individual is motivated to maintain consistency, consonance, or balance (i.e., congruity the ory/principle, or cognitive consistency theory) among pairs of cognitive beliefs, ideas, perceptions, or attitudes about oneself, behavior, or the environment. According to the theory, when inconsistency occurs between cognitions, the person is assumed to be psychologically uncomfortable, and internal pressure is exerted both to reduce the dissonance and to avoid information and events that would increase the dissonance. Festinger's position is similar to the American psychologist George Kelly's (1905-1966) approach, which assumes that cognitions are the basic elements relevant to achieving consistency. Festinger's theory concerns psychological inconsistency, not formal logical inconsistency. For example, the behavior-cognition pair "I smoke" and "Smoking is unhealthy" will produce dissonance only with the assumption that the smoker does not want to be unhealthy or to contact cancer. Such ambiguity concerning type of inconsistency both increases the scope of dissonance theory and also makes it difficult to predict when dissonance will occur. Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance is an elaboration, also, of the German-born American psychologist Kurt Lewin's (18901947) field theory, in which the situation existing prior to one's making a decision about events differs from the situation after a decision has been made. Festinger's experimental research on cognitive dissonance demonstrates that people are more likely to change their beliefs to conform to their public statements if they are under rewarded than if they are given large rewards, a surprising finding that is at odds with traditional reinforcement theory (cf., less-leads-to-more effect, also called negative incentive effect - refers to a tendency in people who have been rewarded minimally to state positions contrary to their true beliefs to generate more attitude change than occurs with larger rewards). Whereas reinforcement theory indicates that one dislikes things associated with pain, cognitive dissonance theory suggests that persons come to like those things for which they suffer (cf., cognitive evaluation theory - posits that if a person is rewarded for good behavior, the behavior will either get better or worse depending on whether the person sees the reward as the result of improved "effectance" or as a means for the rewarder to assert control over the respondent; and commodity theory - holds that goods and products are perceived to have more value when there is a cost attached to them). Festinger identified four types of dissonance: postdecision dissonance (cf., double approach-avoidance situation of conflict theory); forced compliance dissonance; maximized dissonance/consequent attitude change; and social support system dissonance. Occasionally, people behave in ways that run counter to their attitudes, but subsequently may be faced with their dissonant cognitions (such as saying "I believe this, but I did that"). They can't undo their deed, but they can relieve their dissonance by changing, even reversing, their attitudes to justify an action. This phenomenon is called the insufficient-justification effect and is defined as a change in attitude that occurs because, without the change, the individual cannot justify the already completed action. Hundreds of field studies and experiments have demonstrated the power of the theory of cognitive dissonance to change behavior and attitudes. Additionally, Festinger was among the first to point out that group membership fills needs for social comparison. Festinger's theory of social comparison holds that in an ambiguous situation (i.e., when one is not certain about what to do or how to feel) the individual will affiliate with people with whom one can compare feelings and behaviors (cf., Donald W. Fiske and Salvatore R. Maddi's personality theory that is based on a consistency model concerning the match and mismatch between one's customary or actual levels of activation/tension rather than of cognitions). By the 1970s, the theory of cognitive dissonance was recognized as one of the most important and influential developments in social psychology up to that time. Detractors of cognitive dissonance theory (e.g., Daryl J. Bem's self-perception theory) indicate that dissonance phenomena may be more parsimoniously accounted for by assuming that actors infer their beliefs from observations of their own behavior. The strength of cognitive dissonance theory, also, has been its weakness: the postulation of cognitive mechanisms has had a positive impact, but the intricate experimental procedures used have led to alternative interpretations of results. Recently, there has been a decline of interest in cognitive dissonance theory. Perhaps, part of the reason for this has to do with its focus on the motivational concept of tension-reduction. By the mid- and late-1970s, psychologists' attraction to the theory began to wane as interest in the entire topic of motivation faded, and the journals were overwhelmed by studies concerning the purely cognitive approaches (absent motivational constructs such as drive-reduction and tension-reduction) and it was fashionable to pretend that motivation did not exist as an issue. However, it may be speculated that dissonance theory will soon make a comeback (cf., Aronson, 1992). See also ATTITUDE/ATTITUDE CHANGE, THEORIES OF; ATTRIBUTION THEORY; BEM'S SELF-PERCEPTION THEORY; CONFLICT, THEORIES OF; DECISION-MAKING THEORIES; KELLY'S PERSONAL CONSTRUCT THEORY; LEWIN'S FIELD THEORY; MOTIVATION, THEORIES OF; REINFORCEMENT THEORY. REFERENCES

Lewin, K. (1935). A dynamic theory of personality. New York: McGraw-Hill. Heider, F. (1946). Attitudes and cognitive organization. Journal of Psychology, 21, 107-112. Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140. Kelly, G. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Fiske, D. W., & Maddi, S. R. (Eds.) (1961).

Functions of varied experience. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press. Festinger, L. (1964). Conflict, decision, and dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Bem, D. J. (1967). Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena. Psychologi-calReview, 74, 183-200. Cooper, J., & Fazio, R. (1984). A new look at dissonance theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. New York: Academic Press.

Aronson, E. (1992). The return of the repressed: Dissonance theory makes a comeback. Psychological Inquiry, 3, 303-311.


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