Cognitive Dissonance Essay

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“Your best friend is having a beer bash tonight. Everyone you talk to indicated their positive intentions of going to the best beer bash of the millennium. However, you have a Psyc 135 final next morning that you haven't studied for. Your midterm scores have been low going into the final, but everyone claims that the final is easy every semester. Should you stay home and study for the final or go to this millennium beer bash and merrily consume alcohol?” Above stated scenario raises several questions in my mind and lands me in a state of psychological tension. Having a choice of attending a social event or studying for the final exam puts me in a dilemma as to what to do next. Deciding to stay home and study for a test may very well anger…show more content…
One decision is to stay abstinent from alcohol or follow in the footsteps of my beer bash friends. Prescribing to any of the alternatives may lead to dissonance as drinking may deteriorate health and cause lower grades, while not attending the beer bash may give my best friend and peers a sense of their rejection. What happens to people when they discover dissonant cognitions? The answer to this question forms the postulation of Festinger’s theory. Festinger's theory of Cognitive Dissonance postulates that individuals, when presented with evidence contrary to their worldview or situations in which they must behave contrary to their worldview, experience cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957). Dissonance can be simply understood as an “unpleasant state of tension.” A person who has dissonant or discrepant cognitions is said to be in a state of psychological dissonance, which is experienced as unpleasant psychological tension (Berkowitz & Cotton, 1984). This tension state has drive-like properties that are much like those of hunger and thirst. When an individual has been deprived of food for several hours, he/she experiences unpleasant tension and is driven to reduce the unpleasant tension state that results (Berkowitz & Cotton, 1984). The general sequence of a psychological tension is as follows, (a) conflict, (b)

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