Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance

As most of the class already mentioned, I had a hard time following the article and finding significance in it. The author seemed to be writing in circles and was being everything but straight-forward with his thoughts. Although his writing style was confusing to me, I was able to grasp Festinger's explanation of cognitive dissonance because I am familiar with the idea from previous classes.
The experiment that was first referenced, that involved the psychiatrist and his patient, was simple and rather direct but I was completely unable to make a connection between the joke and the idea of cognitive dissonance. Festinger did not explain which aspects of the joke were related to cognitive dissonance and simply said, "This kind of thing, if it occurred actually, would be harder to explain in alternative ways." Since the concept was hard to explain, i do not see the significance in the joke being mentioned, but not explained.
The study Festinger did along with Reicken and Schachter was easier for me to connect to cognitive dissonance. Each step was explained thoroughly, although I believe Festinger could have been more direct. The main idea was that the dissonance between their religious beliefs and the reality that the messages they were receiving were not credible could be reduced as long as there were enough people that believed in the messages. The believers created a bond of support that with held any single member to doubt the messages.
The last study, involving the students from a Psychology course at Stanford, was very confusing to me. As i continue to re-read it, i feel as though it is a simple experiment, just poorly explained. I was unable to see any aspect of increasing or decreasing dissonance throughout the experiment. I feel as though this could be used as a helpful example if it were better explained and easier to follow.
Even Festinger's summary and conclusion was difficult for me to understand. After everything he wrote throughout the article, I was hoping to be able to put the pieces together in the conclusion but it only left me more confused. After everything I read, I am still asking, What is the Motivating Effect of Cognitive Dissonance?

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