Cognitive Dissonance in Religion and Spirituality

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Cognitive Dissonance in Religion

Cognitive Dissonance in Religion and Spirituality Chew Hock Kee Student ID: B1102483 Department of Psychology MC-502 Dr. Goh Chee Leong 27 Feb 2012

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Cognitive Dissonance in Religion Cognitive dissonance theory was developed by Leon Festinger more than fifty years ago as the most influential consistency theory of attitudes (Fanzoi, 2009). This theory argues that we often justify and rationalise our behavior in order to maintain cognitive consistency (Franzoi). In the classical cognitive dissonance experiment conducted by Festinger and J Merrill Carlsmitch, (Festinger, 1959, as cited in Franzoi, 2009) where a group of people were asked to perform two 30-minute mundane boring tasks where some were paid $1 and others were paid $20. At the end of the tasks, one group was asked to relay the message that the tasks were “very enjoyable” and “fun” to the next group of participants. There was also control group where they were not required to lie. At the end of the experiment, the entire group of participants were interviewed and asked the question how fun and interesting they actually found the tasks to be. The result of their finding showed that the $1 liars actually showed more enthusiasm in telling others that the tasks were “very interesting” and “fun” than the group who said so for $20. The $1 group was experiencing greater discomfort by telling the tasks as “very enjoyable” when they felt it was actually boring tasks whereas the $20 liars have more justification for their action. The cognitive dissonance experienced by the $1 liars naturally motivated to change their attitude in order to reduce the dissonance. According to Franzoi (2009), there are some strategies commonly employed to reduce cognitive dissonance such as changing one’s attitudes, adding more consonant thoughts, altering the importance of the discrepant thoughts, reducing perceived choice, making selfaffirmations to overlook current dissonance and changing



References: Burns, Charlene P. E., 2006, Cognitive Dissonance Theory and the InducedCompliance Paradigm: Concerns for Teaching Religious Studies, Teaching Theology and Religion, ISSN 1368-4868, 2006, vol. 9 no. 1, pp 3–8. DOI:10.1111/j.14679647.2006.00255.x Franzoi, S.L. (2009). Social Psychology. 5th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. LUTZ, L. (2003). Are Participants Really Happy After Praying or Do They Just Think They Are?. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 6. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved February 24, 2012). MCCLUNG, C. M. (1999). Religion and Cognitive Dissonance: Do They Coexist. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved February 24, 2012 . 6

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