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  • 1. Cognitive Dissonance
  • 2. Introduction to Cognitive Dissonance Developed by Leon Festinger (1919-1989): ● PhD from the University of Iowa ● Winner of the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award
  • 3. Introduction to Cognitive Dissonance How the idea of cognitive dissonance developed: ● Festinger studied a UFO cult in the 1950s. ● The group was led by Marian Keech, a homemaker who believed that the earth would end on Dec. 21, 1954 and that she (along with followers) would be rescued by aliens. Even though the earth did not end, many of Keech’s followers ● continued to believe strongly in her ideas. Festinger’s question: Why did the cult members not reject ● the ideas of their leader even after she was proven wrong?
  • 4. Introduction to Cognitive Dissonance How the idea of cognitive dissonance developed: ● Festinger studied earthquake rumors in India. He noticed that people living outside where the ● earthquake occurred spread rumors about even greater earthquakes that had destroyed outlaying regions ● Festinger’s question: Why did these false rumors emerge and why did they spread so quickly?
  • 5. Introduction to Cognitive Dissonance How the idea of cognitive dissonance developed: ● In 1957, Festinger published A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. ● The theory seeks to explain what happens when people hold contradictory cognitions (ideas): Examples of cognitive dissonance: * Believing the world will end and seeing the world has not ended. * A mother, who believes that her son is a good boy, learns that he is a killer. * A preacher, who thinks he is righteous, finds himself tempted to sin. • A person who hates speeders finds that in order to not miss a flight, she has to drive 85 mph.
  • 6. Why study cognitive dissonance? Understanding cognitive dissonance can help in crafting communication campaigns aimed at curbing harmful behaviors: A. Almost everyone wants to live a long life. Yet, why do smokers continue to smoke even after they learn that smoking kills?
  • 7. Why study cognitive dissonance? Understanding cognitive dissonance can help in crafting communication campaigns aimed at curbing harmful behaviors: B. Almost everyone wants to live a long life. Yet, why do we continue to eat food that clogs our arteries and can cause heart attacks?
  • 8. Why study cognitive dissonance? Understanding cognitive dissonance can help in crafting communication campaigns aimed at curbing harmful behaviors: C. Almost everyone wants to live a long life. Yet, why do we continue to drink in amounts that put us at risk and can even kill us?
  • 9. Why study cognitive dissonance? Understanding cognitive dissonance can help in crafting communication campaigns aimed at curbing harmful behaviors: D. Almost everyone wants to live a long life. Yet, why do many continue to abuse extremely dangerous drugs.
  • 10. Example One Michael Richards (aka Cosmo Kramer): Became famous as Jerry Seinfeld’s harmless and wacky neighbor. A key player in one of the most popular television shows of all time.
  • 11. Example One Michael Richards (aka Cosmo Kramer): Sample performance that made him famous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH8f4Dg1Kv0 Alternate link: Click Krameronseinfeld.wmv in the presentation folder.
  • 12. Example One Michael Richards (aka Cosmo Kramer): Was caught on camera hurling racist insults at African American audience members. Forced to go on television and apologize. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uul6COkTnNU Alternate link: Click Kramerapology.wmv in in the presentation folder.
  • 13. Example One Michael Richards (aka Cosmo Kramer): Cognitive Dissonance: fans were split on whether to support or reject Kramer. Is he a bad guy or a good guy who made a mistake. Debates were waged online. Different ways people tried to resolve the dissonance: Racism is not right no matter You have to feel sorry for him what the situation is. at least a little, he's just a However, the things that he man who lost his cool and said, i cant seem him just went too far with his rage,. loosing his temper... That was some deep internal It's sad that it will forever issue, i believe he is racists. tarnish his career at least in His apology is wack, and not most peoples opinions. acceptable. Wrbraun, Youtube Stellarbelz, Youtube
  • 14. Example One Michael Richards (aka Cosmo Kramer): Different ways fans tried to resolve the dissonance: Well, he did apologized, and This guy is a douche. I hope like Jerry said quot;He deserves he never finds work again. another chance, regardless Hecklers my a**, no excuse of what he said and didquot; so for his s**. Plain and simple. mcCoy22, Youtube hey i'll give him another chance yah know.. Smoker, Youtube you know your not sorry... you meant what you said.. I think it was curagous for your just sorry you got him to apologize in David caught...ur sorry ppl didnt Lettermans show. I felt sorry take it as a joke. you dont for him. He did look sincere, know that ur a racist..thats he was trembling a lot. whats sad...it went on for a Kressara, Youtube good 4 minutes.. you meant what you said. n Aquanetta, Youtube
  • 15. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts A cognition: this is a piece of knowledge one has about something. It can be knowledge about an attitude, an emotion, a behavior, or value etc. An individual can hold multitude of cognitions simultaneously. Work School Religion Politics Family
  • 16. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Cognitive irrelevance: Most of the things that people know aren’t so closely related. These ideas can operate together simultaneously in a state of cognitive irrelevance that poses no challenges to the mind at all I love pictures of Kanye West’s cats glasses are interesting.
  • 17. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Cognitive consonance: one cognition follows from, or fits with, the other. People like consonance among their cognitions. People appear to prefer cognitions that fit together to those that do not. Kim Kardashian is Paris Hilton is not not a good role a good role model model for my for my young young daughter. daughter.
  • 18. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Cognitive dissonance: Feeling which occurs when there is an imbalance among cognitions. Psychological discomfort occurs. I love my high That girl in my school sweet communication heart, she loves class is nice, is a me, and I want my hottie, and she long distance asked me to go relationship to study with her at work. She will call 7 pm tonight. at 7 pm tonight.
  • 19. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Anxiety occurs when there is dissonance and where the cognitions are ● deemed personally and socially significant. A person who has dissonant cognitions experiences the unpleasant ● sensation of dissonance as a psychological tension. This tension state is as powerful as hunger or thirst. ●
  • 20. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Dissonance increases as the degree of discrepancy among cognitions ● increases. Dissonance increases as the number of discrepant cognitions increases. ● Dissonance is inversely proportional to the number of consonant cognitions ● held by an individual. In most cases in life, cognitions exist which support certain aspects of an otherwise discrepant situation. The greater the number of such consonant cognitions, the less the dissonance. ● Glaring discrepancies among trivial cognitions does not lead to much dissonance.
  • 21. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Dissonance can be reduced in three ways: Change: individuals can change attitudes, behavior, or beliefs etc to make 1. the relationship between the dissonant cognitions consonant. This type of dissonance reduction is difficult because well-learned behaviors are hard to change.
  • 22. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Dissonance can be reduced in three ways: 2. Acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant cognitions: Thinking smoking marijuana causes brain cell loss will cause dissonance if a person smokes marijuana. However, new information such as “research has not proved definitely that smoking marijuana destroy brain cells” may reduce the dissonance.
  • 23. The theory of cognitive dissonance & key concepts Dissonance can be reduced in four ways: 3. Reduce the importance of the cognitions: A person could convince herself that it is better to quot;live for todayquot; than to quot;save for tomorrow.quot; She could tell herself that a short life filled with sensual pleasures is better than a long life devoid of such joys. In this way, she would be decreasing the importance of the dissonant cognition (“ careless spending is bad for a person’s futurequot;).
  • 24. Example Two Chris Brown: Baby-faced music star re-known for his clean image, music, and lifestyle. High-profile relationship with Rihanna, a fellow singer.
  • 25. Example Two Chris Brown: Cultivated a good boy image. Called the “New Michael Jackson” Loved by young and old female fans worldwide. An example of his image building: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZE0J46QtJA Alternate link: Click Chrisbrownmusicvideo..wmv in in the presentation folder.
  • 26. Example Two Chris Brown: The image has been shattered by revelations that he severely beat Rihanna. Numerous companies have canceled his endorsements. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjXwed8UamA Alternate link: Click newsreport.wmv in the in the presentation folder.
  • 27. Example Two Chris Brown: Cognitive Dissonance: fans are split on whether to support or reject Chris Brown. Is he a bad guy or a good guy who made a mistake. Debates are being waged online. Different ways people are trying to resolve the dissonance: As for Chris brown, an And I truly support Chris abuser is an abuser. He is a Brown. I hope he can save sick man and I hope she himself, get the help he stays the hell away from him. needs, and one day be forgiven. My gut tells me this guy isn't She nor does anybody else a wife beater, but let his rage deserve to be hit or verbally take control , just like dad did abused or mentally abused. when he was growing up. Theodore, Latimes.com Supporter, Latimes.com
  • 28. Example Two Chris Brown: Different ways people are trying to resolve the dissonance: Chris Brown is has shown us i dont think anybody should that he is not a real man!! He blame any thing on chris has shown us that he is very brown because she had to weak and childish, he really provoke him to hitting her needs to get counseling. and she I heard that she Zak, Latimes.com actually threw his keys out the window Jada, Latimes.com people forget that there is That little pretty boy should violence against men too.. try squaring off with a real women can get really mad man from the shoulders too, rihanna hit chris first, he instead of putting his hands flashed back to when his on a woman. I don't care mom would get hit and it WHAT the reason, a man has brought out anger. im not no justification for striking a mad at him for it, he was female. Laura, Latimes.com acting in self defense Jada, Latimes.com
  • 29. Example Three Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) Method: 71 students were asked to perform dull tasks. They were paid either $1 or $20 to tell a waiting participant that the tasks were really interesting. Results: Participants who were paid only $1 rated the tedious task as more fun and enjoyable than the participants who were paid $20 to lie. Conclusion: Being paid only $1 is not sufficient incentive for lying and so those who were paid $1 experienced dissonance. They could only overcome that dissonance by coming to believe that the tasks really were interesting and enjoyable. Being paid $20 provides a reason for turning pegs and there is therefore no dissonance.
  • 30. Example Three Aronson & Mills (1959) Method: Female students volunteered to take part in a discussion on the psychology of sex. Mild embarrassment condition: participants read aloud to a male experimenter a list of sex-related words like 'virgin' and 'prostitute'. Severe embarrassment condition: read aloud obscene words and a very explicit sexual passage. Control condition: they went straight into the main study. In all conditions they then heard a very boring discussion about sex in lower animals. They were asked to rate how interesting they had found the discussion, and how interesting they had found the people involved.
  • 31. Example Three Aronson & Mills (1959) Conclusion: Participants in the 'severe embarrassment' condition gave the most positive rating. If a voluntary experience which has cost a lot of effort turns out badly, dissonance is reduced by redefining the experience as interesting. This justifies the effort made