Cognitive Dissonance Paper
Introduction The words Cognitive Dissonance were fascinatingly interesting; therefore more research went into the origin of these two words. Both words are Middle English, which was the English in use from 12th to 15th centuries and both used in the 15th century [ (Merriam-Webster, 2011) ]. Cognitive is an adjective meaning, there is physical activity involving the mind; be it: thinking, reasoning or remembering. Dissonance is a noun meaning, when there is a tug-of- war between one’s actions and one’s mind [ (Merriam-Webster, 2011) ].
This paper will explore that tug-of-war of the mind (conscious) and actions (subconscious) and how one can and will justify behavior that a direct dissension from his or her values, beliefs, attitudes and morals. Even knowing the action is wrong, the justification somehow makes it right enough to proceed with the deception. Describe the situation (Capitalize “S” for consistency) Alice is in her mid-twenties, has a great job, a great boyfriend, and a really nice apartment right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. All was great until Alice’s boyfriend, Mark, decides not to show up to pick her up for their planned day trip.
Worried, Alice drives to his house to make sure he’s alright. She knocks on the door, and a woman, also in her mid-twenties, answers. Upon introducing herself, Alice is hit with a devastating reality: this woman is her boyfriend’s long term girlfriend. All at once Alice had no idea who her boyfriend of nine months was. Too devastated to fight or question, and too angry to listen to his excuses, Alice drives home, crawls into bed, and sleeps straight through the weekend. “Monday morning,” she says to herself, “I will put this all away and go to work like normal. ” But, when Monday rolls around, she can barely get out of bed.
So, Alice does something beyond her realm of morality: she calls in sick when she really isn’t ill. This is something that is becoming more and more common in the workplace. Like many others, Alice has committed an ethical crime, but only to better herself. If she goes into work looking the way she does (pale and sickly) she could get into trouble and sent home. To her, it’s better to call in sick and take a few days to clean herself up than to show up looking the way she does. On top of that, people are going to question her when they see her appearance, and the unprofessionalism of ringing her personal life into the office could add up to more issues. As a part of protecting herself and her professional image, Alice decides to abandon her moral code and take a few sick days. Social, cultural, and spiritual influences on Alice’s behavior and her ethics (capitalize the first letters – for consistency) Alice believed that she was in a wonderful relationship with her boyfriend Mark and did not suspect that he was cheating on her with his previous girlfriend until she was confronted with the situation when the supposed ex-girlfriend answered her boyfriend’s door.
The rules of a monogamous relationship as dictated by society are that there is only one person the other is dating. This is what Alice believed her relationship was and therefore was completely surprised, hurt and depressed when she found out Mark was not adhering to the same societal rules she had. Alice grew up in a happy well-adjusted family. Her parents are happily married with three children. Both of her parents have fulfilling jobs and are active in their community and church. The culture Alice was raised in values hard work, strong morals, and honesty.
The life goals Alice were taught were to work hard at a job that is satisfying, find love, get married, and have children. She believed she was well on the path to have all of these. Alice’s culture gave her life goals and a work ethic she is proud of. As a result she is a reliable and hard worker who is punctual and does not call out sick unless she is. When she was devastated by Mark’s cheating and was totally depressed she called in sick. She was hurting emotionally and did not think she could face her co-workers knowing they would see it.
She was also embarrassed and did not want to let her co-workers know she had chosen so badly when it came to her choice in the man she was hoping to marry. Her ethics were compromised by her desire to get herself together to be able to show a good face at work, yet was unable to face her co-workers and work through her depression and grief over her lost relationship she called in sick even though she was not physically sick. Explanation Cognitive Dissonance Theory (delete if there are no others)
According to Leon Festinger (1957), “Dissonance and consonance are relations among cognitions that is, among opinions, beliefs, knowledge of the environment, and knowledge of one’s own actions and feelings. Two opinions, or beliefs, or items of knowledge are dissonant with each other if they do not fit together” (p. 25). When the cognitions are of opposite actions or feelings, they are dissonant. Cognitive dissonance can perpetuate a conflict and in Alice’s situation, it did. Alice, by definition, is an honest, hardworking adult with morals and values.
However, she encountered a personal situation with her boyfriend that caused her to have dissonant cognitions. She knew it was wrong to call her employer and inform them she was ill and unable to go to work. Calling her employer and lying about her state of health caused discomfort (that is what dissonance does) and to justify lying, she tries to convince herself she did the right thing. This justification comes by way of the statements she makes about her appearance. Alice has convinced herself that if she goes into work looking pale and sickly, she will be in trouble and sent home.
Nevertheless, she did not analyze the situation because she actually may be in more trouble for calling in sick then just going into work and speaking candidly with her immediate supervisor. She continues the conflict by believing that her appearance is unprofessional and that personal problems should not affect her work environment. What Alice fails to realize is the fact she is human and so are all the people she works with and everyone has moments when their personal life will transcend into their working environment. The key is how one behaves when the situation presents itself.
In Alice’s case, she had morals and values on her left shoulder whispering into her ear and she had dissonance on her right shoulder whispering in that ear. Alice chose the right and because of that decision, she will have to suffer the consequences of her actions. The Reciprocal Relationship Between Behavior and Attitudes. The strong reciprocal relationship between behavior and attitude is undeniable. Attitude is representing beliefs and feeling associated to an event, person and the consequential behavior. “Attitudes are an efficient way to size up the world.
When we have to respond quickly to something, how we feel about it can guide how we react” (Myers, 2006, p. 109). Attitude can predict behaviors under few circumstances, such as minimal outside influences or if attitude is strong or relates closely to the predicted behavior. Had Alice been carefree and happy, her honest hardworking attitude would direct her to work rain or shine but the discovery of betrayal has influenced her normal routine and she called in sick when she is not actually sick. The attitude and behavior relation also work in the reverse direction.
During or after the act, the attitude amplifies to justify and underlying the action. Often the action affects the moral attitudes, for example, after committing an evil act or wrong-doings, individual will attempt to twists the moral attitude to minimize the guilt and justify the action. After Alice called in sick, she felt the misery she was feeling over the weekend becoming overwhelming, which justifies her absence at work because she needs more time to collect herself. Alice just unconsciously changed her moral attitude to match her action of calling in sick.
She felt the misery she was feeling over the weekend becoming even more overwhelming, which justifies her absence at work because she needs more time to collect herself. Alice just unconsciously changed her moral attitude to match her action of calling in sick. Conclusion As humans we must reason and rationalize situations daily. Alice was faced with a life stressor and she rationalized her options. The option she chose may be deemed self-centered and self-fulfilling. Did she take into account any undue burdens placed upon her employer or co-workers because of her absence from work?
The answer to that question may never be known but what is known is that she soothed only her own hurt feelings. She may have done actually more harm than good to herself as well. She stayed home alone to wallow in her sorrows rather than be around others to distract her from those same feelings she is avoiding. She should have been honest to herself and others. “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people” – Spenser Johnson (ThinkExist. com Quotations, 2010). References Merriam-Webster. (2011).
Merirriam-Webster. Retrieved March 22, 2011, from Merriam-Webster: http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/ Festinger, L. (1957). Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. – should be before “M” Myers, D. G. (2006). Chapter 4 – Behavior and attitudes. Retrieved from http://highered. mcgraw-hill. com/sites/dl/free/0070952027/363504/Ch04_Myers3Ce. pdf ThinkExist. com Quotations. (2010). Spencer Johnson. Retrieved March 24, 2011, from ThinkExist. com Quotations: http://en. thinkexist. com/quotes/spencer_johnson/