Cognitive Dissonance Theory Essay

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The theory of Cognitive Dissonance states that when individuals are presented with information that implies we act in a way that contradicts our moral standards, we experience discomfort (Aronson, Wilson, and Akert, 1998, P. 191). This is considered Cognitive Dissonance,
A psychological term used to describe mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information; arouses unease or tension; relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information; persuading self that no conflict really exists; reconciling differences; or resorting to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in conception of world and of
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Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith also tested his theory in 1959. They put all the participants through a dull task. The task consisted in placing a large number of spools on pegs on a board, turn each spool a quarter turn, take the spool off the pegs and then put them back on. The subject’s attitudes toward this task were negative.
The participants were then asked to lie about the task to another person. This person was actually an assistant in the study. The lie was to try to convince the assistant that the task was actually interesting and fun. The participants were either given one dollar or twenty dollars for lying about the task. The experimenters found that those who lied and received the one-dollar experienced the greatest dissonance, and they were more motivated to seek cognitive constancy than the participants who received twenty dollars. Those who received the one-dollar reported to have enjoyed the task more than those who received the twenty dollars.
There was an inconsistency between the attitudes of the participants and the behavior. The participants who received twenty dollars just wanted the money. The larger amount of money provided external justification for the behavior. There was no dissonance, and the participants did not need to change their attitudes.
For the subjects who received only one dollar there was less external justification, and more dissonance. They reduced their dissonance by changing their attitudes toward the task. The
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