Perception Journal Club

Cognitive Dissonance and the Perception of Natural Environments

Two studies demonstrated that the motivation to resolve cognitive dissonance affects the visual perception of physical environments. In Study 1, subjects crossed a campus quadrangle wearing a costume reminiscent of Carmen Miranda. In Study 2, subjects pushed themselves up a hill while kneeling on a skateboard. Subjects performed either task under a high-choice, low-choice, or control condition. Subjects in the high-choice conditions, presumably to resolve dissonance, perceived the environment to be less aversive than did subjects in the low-choice and control conditions, seeing a shorter distance to travel (Study 1) and a shallower slope to climb (Study 2). These studies suggest that the impact of motivational states extends from social judgment down into perceptual processes.