Monday, September 19, 2011

"The Motivating Effect of Cognitive Dissonance"

The article entitled "The Motivating Effect of Cognitive Dissonance" was an intriguing read that provided insight regarding the phenomenon Festinger calls "Cognitive Dissonance." Prior to reading this article, I had never heard of this phenomenon, but after the completion of my reading I can see how this pertains to human beings in everyday life situations. The author equally compares cognitive dissonance to motivation as hunger is to motivation; both cognitive dissonance and hunger serve as a "push" factor, in which we are then instinctively urged to satisfy the "craving."

Festinger's example of the catastrophic flood that would "fictitiously" occur, and the flying saucer that would rescue the helpless civilians was paramount; we are convinced that what we believe in is the "right" way, so to speak, regardless of any other circumstance. The people believed that this major flood would come and that they would be saved by a UFO because of their belief in their own respective gods. It did not matter if it sounded crazy or if it was perceived as being crazy by anyone else; the fact that the people had their own set belief(s) and that both the flood and saucer never came illustrates this dissonance that seems to blind us, if you will. The same can be said with any particular religion in the world. Human beings believe and practice their religion because they have "faith" in it, and it is that very notion that can sometimes cause a disillusion, a cognitive dissonance, because their "faith" does not match up to what is occurring in the real world.

I believe that cognitive dissonance keeps us all alive in a sense. Most of us want to do well to succeed in the world, and if we are not doing it we want to believe that we can do it. We want to go to school to get a good education; we want to enter a career with the incentive of making a lot of money; we want to find "the one" in order to start a family and raise children. Without the belief of something serving to motivate us, then why are we even living? I pose this question: Would human beings still have a desire to live without faith or a belief in something to spark a fire in us?

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