Behaviorism argued that a subject matter of psychology must be firmly grounded in observed human behavior rather than in unobservable mental constructs. This approach suggested completely new theoretical structures and empirical approaches.
Thus at a time it seemed that the majority of social psychologists were behaviorists, which asserts that human behavior can be understood in terms of stimulus response relationship without necessarily referring to underlying mental state.
Then Gestalt inspired group dynamics (MCGARTY, 1997:1-15). He claimed that social environment is not only made up of things but of relations bettering things, Thus Gestalt's tradition promoted a concern with groups as real social entities. Another trend 'Attitude Change' came in vogue with the end of World War II.
The third major Trend that was occurring in 1960s, with the breakdown of the dominance of attitude concept, was the rise of 'Attribution theory'. The ground work of this theory was laid by Heider's book, 1958 "The Psychology of Interpersonal Relation" during 1970s and became the most dominant concern in social psychology.
Cognitive Dissonance (McGarty, 1997:20-26): According to Festinger, theory of Cognitive Dissonance is a deft blend of motivational and cognitive constructs. Cognitive dissonance is a type of psychological discomfort, produced by having attitudes in consistent with behavior, which creates pressure to change those attitudes. When a teacher has to mould or change children's attitude, most of the occasions, reward and punishment is applied but the previous notorious behavior is seen to be repeated in some other social context or situation. The application of cognitive dissonance theory can bring stability and positivism when applied for a purpose of attitude change.
Freedman in 1965 conducted an experiment "forbidden toy" of Aronson and Garlsmith regarding the permanence of dissonance induced opinion change. Its utility in school setting is thus: If the children become aggressive when punished for touching forbidden things then dissonance should be generated in them through mild threat for that thing. So this cognitive dissonance generated in them makes the forbidden item less attractive. This mild threat will bring in them self persuasion which will lead to neutral attitude for that thing. (MCGARTY, 1997:20-26)
Self-Perception VS. Cognitive Dissonance (Bem 1972:1-62) : Self-perception theory differs from cognitive dissonance theory in that it does not hold that people experience a "negative drive state called "dissonance" which they seek to relieve. Instead, people simply infer their attitudes from their own behavior in the same way that an outside observer might. Self-perception theory is a special case of attribution theory.
Attribution Theory (Heider, 1958): This theory is concerned with the ways in which people explain (or