Effects on Attitude Including Cognitive Dissonance and Other Factors Essay

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Attitude Including Cognitive Dissonance and Other Factors

Cognitive dissonance and situational constraints: Effects on attitude

Cognitive dissonance is defined as "the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time" (Straker 2012). An excellent example of cognitive dissonance is when someone is prejudiced and encounters a person who defies the stereotypes they have attached to the group. It also occurs when we act in a manner which defies our beliefs about ourselves -- for example, if we engage in boorish behavior when we see ourselves as upstanding citizens. Two strategies to cope with cognitive dissonance are commonly used. Sometimes the actor will alter his or her beliefs and behaviors, such as questioning his or her prejudices or behaving better. However, it is also common to rationalize the apparent incongruity between reality and our preexisting beliefs. 'He is the exception to the rule,' we say of the person who does not adhere to our prejudiced views. Or, 'I behaved badly when waiting in line because I was tired -- I am not normally like that and I am fundamentally a patient and selfless person.

"The basic idea behind cognitive dissonance theory is that people do not like to have dissonant cognitions. In fact, many people argue that the desire to have consonant cognitions is as strong as our basic desires for food and shelter" (Barker 2003). Other acts of cognitive dissonance rationalization may include rationalizing eating ice cream when on a diet ('it was only a small dish') (Barker 2003). In short, people add or subtract to their cognitions, often in quite irrational ways, to maintain a consistent self-perception and perception of the world. People find the stress of having to question their beliefs uncomfortable. This can create a socially static state of affairs on a national level, as nations may remain mired in conflicts because of the refusal of citizens to acknowledge cognitive dissonance between their beliefs about 'the enemy' and reality. Creating cognitive dissonance is an essential part of teaching and conflict resolution, but the teacher must be willing to be persistent and….....

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