Essay on Cognitive Dissonance

Essay on Cognitive Dissonance

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Cognitive Dissonance


How do human beings make decisions? What triggers a person to take
action at any given point? These are all questions that I will attempt to answer
with my theoretical research into Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive
dissonance, as well as many of the other related theories. We often do not
realize the psychological events that take place in our everyday lives. It is
important to take notice of theories, such as the balance theory, the congruency
theory and the cognitive dissonance theory so that one's self-persuasion occurs
knowingly. As psychologist and theorist gain a better understanding of
Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory manipulation could occur more easily
than it already does in today's society.
Leon Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory is very closely related to
many of the consistency theories. The first of the major consistency theories,
the balance theory, was proposed by Fritz Heider (1946, 1958) and was later
revised by Theodore Newcomb (1953) (Larson, 1995). Heider and Newcomb's theory
was mostly looking at the interaction between two people (interpersonally) and
the conflicts that arose between them. When two people have conflicting opinions
or tension is felt between another person, it is more likely persuasion will
occur. Because if no tension was felt between the two parties, or there were no
conflicting opinions there would be no need to persuade each other. If you think
about it persuasion occurs only because there is tension between two facts,
ideas or people.
     Charles Larson writes in his book, Persuasion, Reception and
Responsibility, “another approach to the consistency theory is congruency theory,
by Charles Osgood and Percy Tennenbaum (1955)” (p.82). This theory suggest that
we want to have balance in our lives and there is a systematic way to
numerically figure it out. When two attitudes collide we must strive to strike a
balance between the two attitudes. The balance varies depending on the intensity
we feel about each attitude and our pre-disposed positions concerning the
attitude. We either have a favorable , neutral or unfavorable opinion concerning
ideas. When two attitudes collide we will attempt to downgrade the favorable
position and upgrade the unfavorable position so that we feel a balance. For
example, suppose someone thought of Mel Gibson as a good role m...


... middle of paper ...


...s Niccorrest
Gum. Apparently no matter how much dissonance is felt and to what degree it is
felt does not matter. Therefore, it may not be possible to get rid of dissonance
or even to reduce it materially by changing one's behavior or feeling.
     The research I have conducted supports my claim that it is nearly
impossible to change the actions of smokers even though massive amounts of
cognitive dissonance are felt. I believe that many of the people being observed
reduced the overall magnitude of dissonance by adding new cognitive elements. No
matter how much dissonance is felt, the smoker will always find elements that
are consonant (agreeable) with the fact of smoking. The will power of
individuals feeling as though they have to have smoking in their everyday lives
is, often times, far to powerful for dissonance to overcome. Perhaps research
such as mine can be useful to further research into the area of dissonance and
the use of tobacco. Much work still needs to be done in this area. We see so
many people dying from lung cancer. Something must be done. Perhaps looking at
effective methods of the use of cognitive dissonance can be helpful in this
arena.

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