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How does cognitive dissonance explain changes in moral cognition for individuals? Abstract

Howdoes cognitive dissonance explain changes in moral cognition forindividuals?


Thispaper employs Leon Festinger`s Cognitive Dissonance Theory (CDT) of1957 in the explanation of changes in moral cognition forindividuals. It demonstrates all the key pieces of the theory. In therest of the paper, numerous behavioral points that support the theoryare presented. In a time of plentiful info, the danger of picking upjust that information that supports our prior beliefs is constantlydiscussed. This theory can be a beneficial critical instrument, whichmakes people cognizant of this ever probable trap.

Cognitivedissonance is a state that involves contradictory approaches,behaviors or beliefs. This crops a sense of uneasiness that resultsto adaptation in one of the insolences, behaviors or beliefs tolessen the uneasiness as well as reinstate balance etcetera.Cognitive dissonance theory advocates that people have an internalenergy to hold their beliefs and attitudes entirely in congruence andavoid dissonance (or disharmony). Attitudes may change due to theaspects within the individual. A significant aspect here is thecognitive consistency principle, the Festinger`s cognitive dissonancetheory of focus. This theory begins from the impression that westrive for constancy in our credence and insolences in whicheverstate where two cognitions are uneven (Gawronski, 2012).

Thispaper focuses on how cognitive dissonance explains changes in moralcognition for individuals.

MoralCognition for Individuals

Moralityis key to individual social contacts. Moral values, norms, codes, aswell as beliefs, offer the framework for the way persons in variedcultures make choices concerning the way to manage one another aswell as how to co-exist in non-violent and communal systems. Whenpeople are perceived to make ethical decisions, they are more oftenthan not supposed as having had some kinds of moral insight or moralcognition into the nature of the dilemma. In any case, that of theobserver diverges considerably from that of the acting or affectedparties the decision will merely be seen as immoral, selfish. Whenindividuals make ethical decisions, they assess an agent’s actionsgiven a system of models. Ideally, most people’s work hasconcentrated on the primary aspect of people`s insight of the agent`sbehavior as well as their expected inferences concerning the agent’spsychological status. Therefore, this scrutiny of mentality, as wellas behavior, remains in the same way pertinent to daily life as it isto official decision-making (Malle, Guglielmo &amp Monroe, 2012).

HowCognitive Dissonance Explain Changes in Moral Cognition forIndividuals (Leon Festinger’s CDT)

Morethan 50 years ago Leon Festinger, a social psychologist, establishedthe CDT (Festinger, 1957). This theory has visibly stood the test oftime in that it is cited in most common as well as social psychologytextbooks at present. The CDT is rather counterintuitive and, inreality, fits into a type of counterintuitive social psychologymodels one-times stated to as action-opinion models. The vitaldistinctive of action opinion models remain that they recommend thatactions can impact on ensuing attitudes and beliefs. This remainscounterintuitive as it would appear reasonable that our deeds are dueto our attitudes or beliefs, not as result of them. Nonetheless, onmore scrutiny of these types of theories have prodigious instinctiveentreaty as the theories, mostly cognitive dissonance, tackle theinescapable human propensity to vindicate (Murray, Wood &ampLilienfeld, 2012).

Thevital Festinger’s CDT proposition remains that in case anindividual holds two cognitions, which are in conflict, the personwill experience an aversive motivational force. This energy isreferred to as cognitive dissonance (a force that the individual willtry to take away, among other approaches, by changing a dissonantcognition (Metin &amp Camgoz, 2011). Festinger regarded the need tokeep away from dissonance so as to be as fundamental as thesignificance of safety or the importance of satisfying hunger.Psychologists describe a drive as whichever inner source motivation,which forces a being to pursue an objective or to gratify a need, forinstance, self-preservation, hunger, or sex. The aversive (upsetting)mental state termed cognitive dissonance as conceptualized as anupsetting force (Harmon-Jones &amp Harmon-Jones, 2012).

CDTis based on three central assumptions: Humans are subtle toinconsistencies between beliefs and actions credit of thisdiscrepancy will result to dissonance and will inspire a person tosolve the dissonance dissonance will be solved in one of these threerudimentary approaches: Change actions, change beliefs, and changeaction perception. To start with, people are subtle to variationsbetween beliefs and actions. Consistent with CDT, they entirelyidentify, at some degree, when they are acting in a manner thatremains erratic with their opinions or attitudes or beliefs. There isan inbuilt in alarm, which goes off when people notice such avariation, whether they like it or not. For instance, in case anindividual has a conviction, which it is erroneous to cheat, yet theperson finds himself cheating on a test that the person will noticeas well as be moved by this inconsistency. Secondly, the credit ofthis inconsistency will result to dissonance and will encourage aperson in resolving the dissonance. Once individuals distinguish thatthey have infringed one of their principles, consistent with CDT,they will not merely agree to it. They will feel some psychologicalpain concerning this. The dissonances extend apparently, will differwith the significance of people’s attitude or belief or principleand with the point of inconsistency between this belief and behavior.Whatever the case may be, consistent with the theory, the more thedissonance the further an individual will be driven to resolve it.Thirdly, dissonance will be determined in change beliefs, changeactions, or change discernment of action (Matthey &amp Regner,2011).

Changebeliefs: Possibly the simplest approach to solving dissonance betweenbeliefs and actions remain merely changing views. Obviously, onecould just choose that cheating is fine. This would undertakewhichever dissonance. Nonetheless, in case the belief remains vitaland significant to a person such a path of action remains doubtful.Furthermore, people’s basic attitudes and beliefs remain prettysteady, and people fail to merely go around altering basic opinions,attitudes, or beliefs occasionally since they trust very much ontheir world view in the prediction of events and organization oftheir thoughts. As a result, though this remains the simplest choicefor determining dissonance, it is perhaps not the most common(Cooper, 2011).

Changeactions: The next option would be making sure that these deeds arenot recurring again. To the degree that persons may decide that theywill never deceive on a test once more, and therefore this may assistin resolving the dissonance. On the other hand, aversive conditioningcan often be a pretty meek learning approach, mainly in case peopleare capable of training their self not to observe these things.Furthermore, individuals may engage in fact advantage in variousapproaches from the action that is contradictory with theircertainties. Therefore, the trick would remain to get rid of thissensation devoid of changing their actions or beliefs, and this leadsthem to the third, and in all probability most universal, resolutionmethod (Chabrak &amp Craig, 2013).

Changeperception of action, is a third, as well as more multifacetedresolution method that denotes, is changing the way individualsperceive/keep in mind/observe their action. In more informal terms,people would &quotrationalize&quot their deeds. For instance, somemight choose that the test they deceived on was that they did notneed anyway. Or they may say to themselves that everybody deceives sowhy not them? Alternatively, some may think about their action in adiverse approach or framework with the intention that it no longeremerges to be contradictory with their beliefs. In case one mayconjecture this series of psychological gymnastics awhile you willperhaps know why cognitive dissonance has remained to be so popular.

Aperson may be forced to do something (that they regard private)publicly. However, in this situation, according to Festinger’s CDT,a dissonance is formed between their behavior and cognition. This isreferred to as forced compliance. It takes place when a person doesan action, which is in conflict with his beliefs. Having in mind thatthis behavior cannot be altered (already past), the dissonance willrequire reduction by a re-evaluation of their attitude to what isalready done. This aspect experimented. The participants developed anegative attitude towards the task, and they were paid to lie to theother participants that the tasks were fascinating. This made theparticipants convince others to take part in the activity.

Onthe same note, dissonance is always provoked by every day`sdecisions. However, people have developed various approaches toreducing this dissonance (Festinger, 1964). In most cases, manyresort to changing their behavior. Nevertheless, this is often veryhard. Therefore, people typically employ &quotspreading apart thealternatives,&quot the use of various psychological mechanisms, forinstance, increasing of the charisma of the selected option at thesame time decreasing the charisma of the other options (Wicklund &ampBrehm, 2013).

TheCDT denotes that people have the tendency of seeking constancy intheir cognitions. However, the moment there is an irregularitybetween dissonance (behavior or attitudes) here is a need for changeso as to do away with the dissonance. There are a number of ways ofchanging individuals’ dissonance. To start with, a person may optto change to make the association between the two consonant aspects.Ideally, the moment dissonant element is behavior the person maychoose to get rid of the behavior or change it. This approach,however, in most cases remains a challenge to people as it istypically hard to change. Another approach to changing individual’sdissonance is acquiring of novel info, which continues to be moreimportant than the dissonant beliefs for instance, the perceptionthat smoking leads to malignancy may result to dissonance if anindividual smokes. Nevertheless, in the case of new info that showsthat research studies have not proved this perception, then thedissonance may be reduced. One more approach to changing individual’sdissonance is a reduction of the cognitions significance. Peoplecould encourage each other that “there is no other life than thepresent life.” Therefore, this may lead to them exploitingwhatsoever comes without care. Ideally, these people could opt tosmoke, for instance, and have all sought of pleasure thus reducingthe dissonant cognition significance (smoking cause cancer) (Chang,Solomon &amp Westerfield, 2016).

Itis now clear that Leon Festinger’s CDT fails to prove thatdissonance reduction approaches work. However, persons who are inthis state will merely take steps in the reduction of theirdissonance degree. In most occasions, dissonance theorists tend toarticulate that a person will do whatsoever so as to lessendissonance. Festinger’s CDT has been employed in numerous instancesin order to develop the critical thought in more detail, as well asnumerous elements, which have been acknowledged that it remains vitalin changing individual’s attitude (Wicklund &amp Brehm, 2013).


Holdingtwo inconsistent thoughts does not substantially generate cognitivedissonance. A person may have to feel painful holding theseinconsistent thoughts. Dissonance is habitually tough whenindividuals suppose that something concerning themselves and afterthat performs something against what they believe. In caseindividuals believe that they are good but carry out somethingappalling, in that case, the uneasiness that they feel consequentlyis cognitive dissonance. Inconsistency between behaviors and beliefsis actually emphasized. Furthermore, some things have to change so asto get rid of or decrease the dissonance. This denotes that cognitivedissonance remains more distinct at the time of making hard decisionson ethical dilemmas. Consistent with Leon Festinger, experience aswell remains a significant aspect of the creation of dissonance. Incase people have experienced a negative event in life, they areliable to feel incognitive dissonance, discomfort, when that statereplicates. This is for the reason that they anticipate feeling itonce more. On the other hand, in the case of people by no means hadencountered negativity in life, there will be no inner struggle. Thisis for the reason that they do not have the thought of what is goingto take place. Again, Festinger did a research and experiments, whichpermitted him to conclude that the instance that persons may lessencognitive dissonance by altering their decisions or views wasunsupported by the effects. Persons are capable of reducing cognitivedissonance by altering either their behavior or opinion on thematter. Furthermore, they can reduce dissonance by just decreasingthe significance of the aspects in question.


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