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Cognitive Dissonance Theory and the Social Identity

A hypothesis of how Social Identity is affected by Cognitive Dissonance.

Kerry Volk

on 19 November 2012

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Transcript of Cognitive Dissonance Theory and the Social Identity

The Role of Social Identity in relation to Cognitive Dissonance Theory Cognitive Dissonance and The Social Identity 1. Cognitive Dissonance from a Psychological Perspective

2. Cognitive Dissonance Theory in Communications What is Cognitive Dissonance? Cognitive Dissonance can introduce stresses that may promote change. Cognitive Dissonance is described as holding two opposing ideas within the mind at the same time. From a Psychological Perspective: Beliefs, Emotional Reaction, Values and Ideas

1. When any of these are in conflict anxiety is increased. (basically you feel bad if you do nothing about these internal conflicts).

2. The guilt formed thus causes a factor called 'motivation driven by anxiety'.

3. We choose to change the behaviour or change the belief (stop smoking or simply intellectualize or rationalize a reason to continue said behaviour). Searching for Consonance First proposed by Freud in the 1920's, though alot of his theories have now been debunked: Intellectualization is described as a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress, by 'using excessive and abstract ideation to avoid difficult feelings.'

Intellectualization helps a person avoid uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic.

Rationalization is much along the same lines and is often referred to as making excuses. Both are much the same thing, the only difference is intellectualization is conscious and rationalization is unconscious. what is intellectualization and rationalization? In a search for consonance, behaviour can be modified and reinforced when Cognitive Dissonance is reduced by intellectualization and Rationalization.

By avoiding changes in behavior, the search for consonance requires the constant reaffirmation of beliefs and cognitions.

This is sometimes evidenced by killings in which beliefs become more important than the obvious knowledge that taking another life is inherently wrong; Rwanda, Nazi Germany, KKK, etc.

Instead of changing the behaviour (not killing), beliefs are reinforced in order to continue the behaviour, such as the example of the smoker that made up excuses for his continued smoking. Reasons for action are intellectualized or rationalized. Why Does this matter? "Cognitive Dissonance Theory (CDT) argues that the experience of dissonance of incompatible beliefs and actions is aversive and people are highly motivated to avoid it. In their efforts to avoid feelings of dissonance, people will avoid hearing views that oppose their own, change their beliefs to match their actions, and seek reassurance after making a difficult decision." Cognitive Dissonance in Communications:
1.In a state of dissonance, people will avoid information and situations that might increase dissonance. This may mean avoiding certain groups.

2. People are motivated to maintain consistency between their attitudes and their behaviours, or between different attitudes that they hold. That is, they want their behaviour to match what they believe, or they want to have attitudes that match each other.

3. Cognitive Dissonance is inherent in social grouping. Based on 'Bias Confirmation' dissonance is reduced by adhering to selective information.

"Our cognitions, the way we think...." Cognitive Dissonance suggests that: Therefore: As Information (pertaining to Communications) Cognitive Dissonance has the ability to:

1. Make predictions about whether people will seek information. ie. Selective Exposure

2. Make predictions about human thought and behaviour after making a decision. ie. Post Decisional Dissonance

3. It also has implications for persuasion as well as the specific form of persuasion called 'Induced Compliance' or 'Forced Compliance.' Festinger.- When an individual performs an action that is inconsistent with his or her beliefs. Persuasion, Communications and information: Cognitive Dissonance is most powerful when it is about our own self-image because:

It is important that our behaviors match up with our internalized idea of who we are; to reduce anxiety and increase consistent 'self-image'.

Often, if our own beliefs about ourselves do not match up with the beliefs of our social group, we will change our cognitions and behaviors to reduce anxiety; sometimes away from the group and sometimes towards the group. Consent, Conformity and Self-Image: What is Self-Image?

What is Social Identity?

How do they relate?

How is Cognitive Dissonance Theory tied into Social Identity Theory? Self-Image and Social Identity "Research has indicated that compliance techniques have become a major asset to numerous forms of advertising, including Internet shopping sites. Techniques are used to communicate essential information intended to persuade customers.

Advertisements and other forms of marketing typically play on the customers need for informative and 'normative social influence.' The people in the advertisements and ads themselves serve as a type of authority.

They are credible, especially in regards to the product. As a result, the customers need to be accurate drives them to comply with the ad's message and to purchase a product that an authority claims he or she needs." Induced consent and conformity in Marketing: 'If you are doing someone a favor, like driving them to a job interview when you really don't want to, you could experience dissonance and might change your attitude through intellectualization.

If there was a really good reason (justification) for doing the favor -- say he is your boss -- it is easy to rationalize your behaviour. "I don't like Fred; I'm only doing him a favor because he's my boss."

If there isn't a good reason for doing the favor, you might experience dissonance and then like Fred more than before you did the favor. "There's no reason why I have to give him a ride, maybe I like Fred more than I thought." On the other hand, if you can get someone who doesn't like you to do you a favor, they might like you a little more than they thought. An everyday 'Induced consent' example: "A person's Self-Image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only the details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair colour, gender, I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experience or by internalizing the judgements of others.

A simple definition of a person's Self-Image is their answer to this question -- 'What do you believe people think about you?'

Self-Image consists of three types:
1. Resulting from how the individual sees himself or herself.
2. Resulting from how others see the individual.
3. Resulting from how the individual perceives how others see them. The Hypothesis: Social Identity Theory was developed by Tajfel and Turner in 1979. The theory was originally developed to understand the psychological basis of inter-group discrimination.

Tajfel et al (1971) attempted to identify the minimal conditions that would lead members of one group to discriminate in favor of the in-group to which they belonged and against another out-group. 'Normative Social Influence' and Social Identity Theory: "In the Social Identity Theory, a person has not one, 'personal self,' but rather several selves that correspond to widening circles of group membership. Different social contexts may trigger an individual to think, feel and act on a basis of his personal, family or national 'level of self.'

An individual has multiple 'social identities.' Social Identity is the individuals Self-Concept derived from perceived membership of social groups.

In other words, it is an individual-based perception of what defines the 'us' associated with any internalized group membership." How closely linked are Cognitive Dissonance and the construction of the Social Identity? You either change your actions or you change your beliefs.
Towards group changes occurs when 'in-group' information forces compliance from an individual.

As mentioned in the 'Ted' video, choosing information to support cognitions and actions is called 'Confirmation Bias,' But,

Forced, or conceding, changes based on information from a group is called Conformity:

Conformity occurs as a natural form of anxiety reduction.
In order to reduce anxiety, a person will change patterns of thinking and acting in order that internal thoughts and external actions align.

These thoughts and actions form the 'self' and eventually the 'self-image.'

Based on the type of information one chooses to adopt, (or is 'forced' to adopt) the cognitions of self are part of a group according to the ideas of 'Social Identity Theory.'

Therefore, by the affects of 'Cognitive Dissonance,' the self is formed in compliance with outside influences, or against them, in order to reduce dissonance. These outside influences are often elements of authority, information and communications from the outside world in the form of social group expectations. (media, social circles, authority, eg: advertising, propaganda, marketing, peers, stereotypes.) These influences are a constant: In Conclusion: Questions: 1. What is Cognitive Dissonance?

2. What is Social Identity Theory?

3. How are those students (or our) 'self-image' affected by the way we think and by outside information?

Thank-You for your time. :)
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