Cognitive Dissonance Paper

Topics: Cognitive dissonance, Social psychology, Attribution theory Pages: 6 (1169 words) Published: July 3, 2015

Cognitive Dissonance
Student Name

Situation and Subsequent Behavior
Richard is driving along a lonely road late at night after working late that day. He has a 4-year-old daughter who he has not spent much time with the entire week because of the long project that makes him work late. Similarly, he has not been having dinner with his family because he always gets home past dinner time. On this particular day, Richard leaves work a bit earlier in an attempt to get home early enough for dinner and so that he can also spend some time with his year old daughter. After driving on an almost clear road for a few miles, Richard notices little pools of blood along the road. He slows down his car and rolls down the window, as he tries to find out the source of the little pools of blood. After driving for a few meters, he notices a staggering middle-aged man who seems unstable and perhaps hurt. Richard slows down for a while, examines the staggering man from a distance; then he drives away after he remembers that his wife and daughter may be waiting for him. As he drives away, Richard cannot take his mind off the man. He tries to imagine what the man may have been up to, perhaps he got into a fight, perhaps he was drunk and got hit by a car, or perhaps he was a criminal on the loose.

Possible Explanation of Richard’s Behavior Using Attribution Theory The attribution theory attempts to explain how we attach meaning to either our behavior or other people’s behavior. As explained by Malle (2011), the attribution theory examines how the social observer uses certain tiding to arrive at contributory clarifications for certain events. Attribution theory, therefore, is keen on examining how information is gathered and shared to shape a causal ruling. The first proponent of this theory, Heider believed that individuals are naïve psychologists who try to make sense out of the world around them. This theory was later taken up by various psychologists who tried to shed light on Heider’s propositions, but two main ideas put forward by Heider remained important. Heider concluded that when examining the behavior of others, individuals tend to look at other people’s internal attributions such as their personality, which are then attached to their behaviors. He also noted that when trying to explain one’s behavior, an individual will tend to consider external attributions such as the environment or the situation in which one is in. Using the internal and external attributions as explained by Heider therefore, from a third party point of view, Richard may come out as uncaring or unkind, judging from the way he drove away even after noticing that the middle-aged man was injured and bleeding. The internal attribution in this case would be used by a third party to related Richard’s actions to his personality or state of mind. Richard, on the other hand, would justify his action based on the situation that he was caught up in. To begin with, he was trying to rush home to be with his family, hence helping the bleeding man may have delayed him, and thus denied him the chance to have dinner with his family. Another situational factor that may arise would point to the fact that it was late at night, Richard was alone, and he was not sure whether the man was a criminal or even drunk. The uncertainty of the situation, therefore, made Richard refrain from helping the man because of the fear that the man would have turned to attack him. Describe the Reciprocal Relationship Between Behavior and Attitudes. The relationship that exists between behavior and attitudes is reciprocal in nature. This means that both aspects influence each other hence a change in attitude influences a change in behavior, and similarly a change in behavior may lead to changes in an individual’s behavior. It is however worth noting that other factors also come into play concerning this relationship between behavior and...

References: Albarracin, D.,Johnson,B.T. & Zana, M.P. (2014). The Handbook of Attitudes. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Malle, B.F. (2011). Attribution Theories: How People Make Sense of Behavior, In Chadee, D. (Ed).Theories in Social Psychology.Wiley-Blackwell.
Sanderson, C. A. (2009). Social psychology. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
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