Imported Theories

Balance Theory is a motivational theory of attitude change, proposed by Fritz Heider. It conceptualizes the cognitive consistency motive as a drive toward psychological balance. The consistency motive is the urge to maintain one's values and beliefs over time. Heider proposed that "sentiment" or liking relationships are balanced if the affect valence in a system multiplies out to a positive result. Balance Theory is also useful in examining how celebrity endorsement affects consumers' attitudes toward products. If a person likes a celebrity and perceives (due to the endorsement) that said celebrity likes a product, said person will tend to liking the product more, in order to achieve psychological balance. However, if the person already had a dislike for the product being endorsed by the celebrity, she may like the celebrity less in addition to liking the product more, again to achieve psychological balance. Heider's balance theory can explain why holding the same negative attitudes of others promotes closeness (see The enemy of my enemy is my friend). Social comparison theory was initially proposed by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. Social comparison theory is centered on the belief that there is a drive within individuals to gain accurate self-evaluations. The theory explains how individuals evaluate their own opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to others in order to reduce uncertainty in these domains, and learn how to define the self. Following the initial theory, research began to focus on social comparison as a way of self-enhancement (Gruder, 1971; Wills, 1981), introducing the concepts of downward and upward comparisons and expanding the motivations of social comparisons (e.g. Schachter, 1959). In the initial theory, Festinger (1954) hypothesized several things. First, he stated that individuals are motivated to gain accurate evaluations of themselves by examining their opinions and abilities in comparison to others. Such comparisons provide an objective benchmark against which an individual can compare themselves in relevant domains, providing a sense of validity and cognitive clarity. He hypothesized that people who are similar to an individual are especially good in generating accurate evaluations of abilities and opinions (Suls, Martin, & Wheeler, 2002).To this, he added that the tendency to compare oneself with some other specific person decreases as the difference between their opinions and abilities become more divergent. He also hypothesized that there is an upward drive towards achieving greater abilities (Festinger, 1954). He further theorized that comparing the self with others leads to pressures of uniformity. If discrepancies arise between the evaluator and comparison group there is a tendency to reduce the divergence by either attempting to persuade others, or changing their personal views to attain uniformity. However, the importance, relevance and attraction to a comparison group that affects the original motivation for comparison, mediates the pressures towards uniformity (Festinger, 1954).