Categorization, cognitive consistency and the concept of dimensional salience


  • Paper presented to the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology working group on Social Judgment, Konstanz, September 1970.


Cognitive consistency theories predict changes in evaluation within an existing frame of reference. This frame of reference must be defined in terms of those dimensions or aspects of the situation that appear most salient to the individual concerned.

The same siuation may appear balanced or unbalanced, depending on which dimensions are seen as salient. The tendency to maintain balance may therefore reveal itself in a tendency to see as salient those dimensions in terms of which a given situation will appear most balanced. This is consistent with evidence from the judgment of attitude statements, which suggests that individuals will regard as most salient those dimensions along which their own evaluations of a set of statements will be most congruent with the value connotations of the terms by which the judgment scale is labelled.