Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance and Social Influence

When I thought of cognitive dissonance I had no idea what it meant. Festinger did a good job, in my opinion, of breaking down the meaning and making it easy to understand. I thought the example of the study Festinger had done with Riecken and Schachter of a group of people who predicted a catastrophic flood that would overwhelm most of the world on a certain date was interesting. The cognitive dissonance was even though the flood prediction was wrong and never happened, they still believed in the gods and in the validity of the communications from them. They came up with explanations and excuses for the flood not happening.

I also thought that is was interesting that the believers who waited together in a group reassured one another and came up with explanations to justify what happened, so that they would still believe in the gods. The people who waited alone became skeptical of their beliefs and started to question them. It makes sense that in a group one is more easily motivated and convinced than if one were alone. One might act a certain way in a group setting and not act that same way when one is alone. Social influences and peer pressures are a big part of society and popularity. Is anyone self-motivated when it comes to making decisions? Or do social influences make us the people we are today? In my opinion, it seems that everything about the world we live in is because of social motivation and influence.