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Functional theories

Functional theorists attempt to understand the divergent attitudes individuals have towards people, objects or issues in different situations.[6] There are four main functional attitudes:

Adjustment function: A main motivation for individuals is to increase positive external rewards and minimize the costs. Attitudes serve to direct behavior directed towards the rewards and away from punishment. Ego Defensive function: The process by which an individual protects their ego from being threatened by their own negative impulses or threatening thoughts. Value-expressive: When an individual derives pleasure from presenting an image of themselves which is in line with their self-concept and the beliefs that they want to be associated with. Knowledge function: The need to attain a sense of understanding and control over ones life. An individuals attitudes therefor serve to help set standards and rules which govern their sense of being.[6]

When communication is targeted at an underlying function its degree of persuasiveness will influence whether the individual will change their attitude, after determining that another attitude will be more effective in fulfilling that function

Leon Festinger originally proposed the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance in 1956. He theorized that human beings constantly strive for mental consistency. Our cognition (thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes) can be in agreement, unrelated, or in disagreement with each other. Our cognition can also be in agreement or disagreement with our behaviors. When we detect conflicting cognition, or dissonance, it gives us a sense of incompleteness and discomfort. For example, a person who is addicted to smoking cigarettes but also suspects it could be detrimental to his health suffers from cognitive dissonance. Festinger suggests that we are motivated to reduce this dissonance until our cognition is in harmony with itself. We strive for mental consistency. There are four main ways we go about reducing or eliminating our dissonance: (1) Changing our minds about one of the facets of cognition, (2) reducing the importance of a cognition, (3) increasing the overlap between the two, and (4) re-evaluating the cost/reward ratio. Revisiting the example of the smoker, he can either quit smoking, reduce the importance of his health, convince himself he is not at risk, or evaluate the reward of his smoking to be worth the cost of his health. Cognitive Dissonance is powerful when it relates to competition and self-concept. The most famous example of how Cognitive Dissonance can be used for persuasion comes from Festinger and Carlsmiths 1959 experiment in which participants were asked to complete a very dull task for an hour. Some were paid $20, while others were paid $1, and afterwards they were instructed to tell the next waiting participants that the experiment was fun and exciting. Those who were paid $1 were much more likely to convince the next participants that the experiment really was enjoyable than those who received $20. This is because $20 is enough reason to participate in a

dull task for an hour, so there is no dissonance. Those who received $1 experienced great dissonance, so they had to truly convince themselves that the task actually was enjoyable in order to avoid feeling like they were taken advantage of, and therefore reduce their dissonance.