Cognitive Dissonance Essay Research Paper According to

Cognitive Dissonance Essay, Research Paper

According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek

consistency among their cognitions (beliefs, expectations, or opinions of a particular individual).

When inconsistency does exist between these beliefs or attitudes, psychological tension

(dissonance) occurs and must be resolved through some action. This tension most often results

when an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions and is heightened

when alternatives are equally attractive to the individual. This tension state has drive-like

properties. If dissonance is experienced as an unpleasant drive state, the individual is motivated to

reduce it. However, it is not an easy state to reduce. Dissonance can be eliminated by reducing

the importance of the conflicting beliefs, by acquiring new beliefs that change the balance, or

removing the conflicting attitude or behavior. In theory, cognitive dissonance suggests that

actions have a causal relationship upon cognitions.

My personal example of cognitive dissonance is the purchase of a 1966 Mustang I made

over the summer. This car was my dream car; it was all original, in good shape, and had all of the

features I could ever want. I didn?t have much money but I was so excited that I took out my

first loan to buy this beautiful car. However, when it came time for school in the fall, I discovered

that it was not the ideal vehicle to drive over the mountains. It was an older car, it didn?t have

seatbelts, and was very sluggish traveling over the mountain pass. I was extremely frustrated.

Dissonance existed between my belief that I had bought a dream car and that a dream car should

have seatbelts and have enough power to make it over a mountain pass. To eliminate this

dissonance, I decided to store the car at my parents house and only drive the car infrequently. I

decided that it didn?t really matter that it couldn?t drive over the pass; It was still a nice car and

didn?t want to put a whole bunch of mileage on it anyway.

Since then, I have also purchased another car that does have seatbelts and can drive

75mph over the pass. In doing so, I have changed both my behavior and my beliefs. I have

changed my belief that it is important for a dream car to have seatbelts and drive over a mountain.

It is now not as important that it has those qualities. I have settled with the excuse that it is still a

nice car, and I don?t want to put many miles on it. In purchasing a new car with these features

(that is not what I believe to be a dream car), I have also changed my beliefs. I no longer think

those qualities constitute the ideal car. I have also changed my behavior by buying a new car. I

could not change my belief that the mustang was a dream car and tag a ?for sale? sign in the

window. I still believed this was my dream car, and the behavior of getting rid of the car would

be a lot harder than changing my beliefs. It was a lot easier to reduce the importance of the

dissonant belief. I have stopped driving the car and have begun to drive a new car as a result.


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