Describe Cognitive Dissonance and Describe How It Is Influenced by Culture

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Précis 7 – Describe cognitive dissonance and describe how it is influenced by culture.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory is a theory of attitude change proposing that inconsistency exists among our attitudes, or between our attitudes and behavior, we experience an unpleasant state of arousal called cognitive dissonance, which we will be motivated to reduce or eliminate. (Bordens & Horowitz 2001) This is a theory, which has been transformed over many decades.

Cognitive Dissonance varies between individuals who are independent and interdependent. Interdependent individuals experience a heightened sense of cognitive dissonance, whereas independent individuals cognitive dissonance is most relative when making a decision independently, for example between what career path to choose. Interdependent individuals often have to make decisions for other people and depending on different cultures, decisions can continue to be made by parents of adult children, such as who a child is destined to marry. Choices have consequences and these consequences can be predicted from the degree of dissonance that is formed by the choice. The more similar in attractiveness the choice alternatives are, the more dissonance that is created.

In ‘western’ cultures, psychological theories tend to emphasize the importance of attitudes, beliefs and personality, in non ‘western’ cultures, collective needs and values are often more important (Hoshino-Browne et al 2005)

Regarding the Hoshino and Browne study relating to cognitive dissonance, participants that were recruited included European Canadians who indicated Canada to be their birth country and Asian Canadians who indicated that one of the East Asian countries was their birth country. This study looked at cognitive dissonance and effects of self-affirmation on dissonance arousal. Within this study European Canadians were more independent and Asian Canadians were more interdependent. The study has shown that both Easterners and...
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