Cognitive Dissonance

cognitive dissonance

I see a lot of people call “cognitive dissonance” when they see a politician who has a stance on one issue and seems to take actions which contradict that position. Thats not what cognitive dissonance is. I have a pet peeve about people trying to throw around science jargon to make their views seem more scientific and objective rather than just try and make a compelling point.

The main thing to keep in mind is that cognitive dissonance is an effect that happens when you take contradictory actions without a direct reason for it.

The experiment that explored this concept worked like this: A bunch of people were given a letter explaining hyping up the experiment they were about to do as really fun, and then they actually did the activity and it was boring and monotonous. Then they were split into 3 groups.

  • Group 1 was asked what they thought of the activity, and they generally said it was boring.
  • Group 2 was first asked to write a letter for the next guy hyping up the experiment, even though it was boring, and paid them Rs 10 for it. Then they were asked what they thought of the activity, and in general they thought it was more fun than group 1 did.
  • Group 3 was the same as Group 2, except the experimenters paid the group Rs 100. This group thought the activity was boring, just like group 1.

So the takeaway is that when you made group 2 do something that contradicted their views, but didn’t give them a particularly good incentive for it, cognitive dissonance took effect and changed their views. But when group 3 did the same thing but with a better reward, they felt like they had a reason for lying, they were doing it for personal gain. So no cognitive dissonance.

Selling out is not cognitive dissonance, it’s the opposite of it. You get cognitive dissonance when you ARENT selling out, but being hypocritical anyway. Politicians have a good reason for being hypocrites, its to get reelected, so thats not cognitive dissonance.

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