Using cognitive dissonance inducing interventions to change drivers' attitudes towards speeding and reduce speeding behaviour

  • Rebecca McCartan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research investigated the effects of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) inducing interventions on drivers' attitudes and speeding behaviour. Chapter 1 discusses the applied context (road safety) and the negative impact of speeding. Chapter 2 discusses the attitude-behaviour relationship and emphasises the need for both attitude-change interventions (for drivers whose speeding is potentially dictated by their generally pro-speeding attitudes) and attitude-conversion interventions (for drivers who speed despite holding generally anti-speeding attitudes). Chapter 3 introduces the theory of cognitive dissonance and reviews associated research relating to attitude-change (induced compliance) and attitude-conversion (hypocrisy induction) interventions;Chapter 4 presents study 1, which was conducted to pilot test measures for the subsequent studies and investigate the components of attitude that predict speeding on the basis that this would have a bearing on how best to develop cognitive dissonance-based interventions (e.g., which components should be targeted?).;Chapter 5 presents study 2, which tested an induced compliance intervention in a sample of drivers with pro-speeding attitudes. As expected, the intervention engendered cognitive dissonance and engendered a change in the components of attitudes that were found to be the biggest predictors of speeding in study 1 at both immediate and one-month post-intervention. It also reduced one-month post-intervention (self-reported) speeding. Although the intervention did not result in immediate post-intervention (objective) behaviour-change and the changes in attitudes were not attributable to the changes in cognitive dissonance, the one-month post-intervention behaviour-change was attributable to attitude-change.;Chapter 6 presents study 3, which tested a hypocrisy induction intervention. As expected, the intervention was found to generate reductions in speeding behaviour, in a sample of regular speeders with anti-speeding (i.e., hypocritical) attitudes at both immediate post-intervention (objective behaviour) and one-month post-intervention (self-reported behaviour). However, the intervention was not found to generate changes in cognitive dissonance.;Chapter 7 discusses the implications of this research for theory and enhancing road safety. Avenues for future research are also discussed.
Date of Award30 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorMark Elliott (Supervisor) & Allan McGroarty (Supervisor)

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