Cognitive Dissonance

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Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is having a thought, idea, attitude, or belief that seems to be out of tune. Cognitive dissonance tends to result in different ways based on the situation that it occurs in. If a person is forced to say an opinion that differs from their own, they experience an out of tune feeling. In Roger Hock’s book “Forty Studies that Changed Psychology,” he recognizes the study of cognitive dissonance performed by Leon Festinger. In “Thoughts Out of Tune,” the article specifically explaining Festinger’s study, Hock goes further into detail. He explains that if we are forced to state an opposed view, while preparing for it, we tend to believe it along with out own. This creates confusing, stress, and dissonance. Festinger’s study explains why and when people may or may not feel cognitive dissonance.

Festinger proposed whatever you state publicly, will be a reflection of your personal views. If any person must speak publicly for any reason that goes against their own private belief, they will definitely feel uncomfortable. However, when offered a reward, the comfort levels can change. If someone offers the speaker a large reward, the speaker will feel more comfort in changing their attitude about the ideas or beliefs being said, even when they don’t believe them. If someone offers the speaker a small reward, the speaker will feel more discomfort because they do not feel there was justification in what they are being rewarded and will have more of a negative attitude than those being greater rewarded.

Festinger performed his experiment on a control group, group A, and group B. Each group contained twenty participants. Group A was the group given one dollar to perform the experiment. Group B was given twenty dollars to perform the experiment. All group were interviewed after the performing ‘the experiment,’ which was to empty and refill a tray of 12 spools for 30 minutes and to turn 48 square pegs a quarter of a turn clockwise for 30 minutes. This was done in order to bore the participants and create negative feelings about what they had to do. Afterwards they were asked to fabricate their feelings toward the experiment to another group waiting outside. Group A was given one dollar. Group B was given twenty dollars. The control group was given no money and was able to be interviewed after performing the tasks. Group A and group B were told after speaking their opposed opinions that the experiment was fun and exciting, they were able to be interviewed and leave.

The interview questioned their true beliefs on how they felt toward ‘the experiment.’ They were asked to rate the experiments on a scale that offered the questions: whether the tasks were interesting and enjoyable, how much the person learned about their ability to perform the tasks given, whether they believed the experiment and tasks were measuring any importance or not, and if they had any desire to participate in another experiment similar to the one performed. In the findings, the control group had extremely negative ratings on the questions asked.

Festinger concluded that when demanded to realize the differences among personal views and attitudes, we would tend to feel cognitive dissonance. This can encourage us to bring change to these views or attitudes to enforce them to become harmonious and agreeable with each other. This will continuously create changing attitudes whether they are big or small. The change will depend on the justification for the behavior. Festinger’s conclusions had shown to support his hypothesis.

David Matz and Wendy Wood performed an experiment similar to Festinger’s study. Matz and Wood did a study on cognitive dissonance in groups and the consequences of disagreement. In the first of several experiments done, they tested ‘the nature of arousal induced by attitude heterogeneity in groups.’ This determines if attitude likeness in groups could be related to dissonance.

In the study, people...
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