Open-minded cognition: The attitude justification effect

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Open-minded cognition: The attitude justification effect

Although open-mindedness is generally valued, people are not equally open-minded in all situations. Open-mindedness is viewed as socially desirable when individuals encounter viewpoints that are compatible with conventional social norms. However, open-mindedness is viewed in less desirable terms when individuals encounter viewpoints that undermine these norms. The perceived desirability of open-mindedness is also influenced by the individual’s personal attitudinal convictions. Individuals ‘inflate’ the normative appropriateness of open-mindedness when it serves to reinforce their convictions, but devalue the normative appropriateness of open-mindedness when it serves to contradict these convictions. Conversely, normative prohibition of closedmindedness is exaggerated when a closed-minded orientation threatens the individual’s personal attitudinal convictions, but is minimized (or reversed) when a closed-minded orientation reinforces these convictions. Paradoxically, the perceived appropriateness of open-mindedness is engendered (at least in part) by the motivation to confirm one’s prior attitudinal convictions. Evidence of this attitude justification effect is obtained in two experiments.

Citation: 
The Journal of PosiTive Psychology, 2017 vol. 12, no. 1, 47–58

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