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  • Welcome to the Macat Multimedia Series. A Macat Analysis of Leon Festinger’s "A Theory

  • of Cognitive Dissonance."

  • Well something has to kill me!”

  • For Leon Festinger, an American social psychologist, that is the sound of a human mind resolving

  • conflict.

  • Festinger is known for his work on cognitive dissonance, a psychological state produced

  • by conflicts between cognitions. Cognitions is an umbrella term for any idea, belief,

  • emotion or knowledge.

  • Festinger’s "A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance," published in 1957, argued that humans prefer

  • cognitions to be unopposed, or consonant, and struggle with those that are opposed, or

  • dissonant.

  • Due to the sheer number of cognitions that we process, they are often in conflict and these conflicts

  • become noticeable when we have to make decisions or are faced with new information that contradicts

  • ideas we already hold.

  • Festinger believed these conflicts to be psychologically distressing. When they occur, he said,

  • people will try to resolve the conflict. When 2 cognitions are inconsistent, this usually

  • means attempting to reduce dissonance by controlling the information were exposed to.

  • What sort of conflicts? Well, cigarette smokers often encounter cognitive dissonance. There

  • is conflict between the behaviors created by their enjoyment of and addiction to smoking,

  • and information highlighting the health problems associated with their habit.

  • Festinger argues that this dissonance causes smokers to become distressed by their smoking

  • behaviour, they may talk constantly about quitting or try repeatedly to quit. But Festinger’s

  • theory goes further than that. He suggests smokers use 4 specific techniques to combat

  • dissonance and the distress associated with it.

  • Number 1: Smokers may quit smoking because of messages from health officials. That’s

  • the smoker changing existing cognitions to relieve the distress caused by new messages.

  • Number 2: Smokers may attempt to justify their cognitions, for example they might concentrate

  • on the likelihood that everyone faces a health risk one way or another. Quitting smoking

  • doesn’t mean avoiding every risk, they argue, so is it worth it? Or maybe the pleasure gained

  • is worth the risk.

  • Thirdly, they add new cognitions. For instance eating healthily or exercising, a smoker might

  • argue, counteracts the risk of smoking. In other words, several desirable cognitions

  • can outweigh the distress caused by the health warning making it all together easier to

  • cope.

  • Finally, number 4: Smokers may dismiss information by questioning the validity of

  • the science behind a warning. Wasn’t there a study last month that seemed to prove the

  • opposite? Or they may ignore it by working to avoid coming into contact with negative

  • messages.

  • Festinger argued that his theory explained behaviors much more dangerous than smoking,

  • if people in government work together to rationalise and justify their actions, it becomes much

  • easier to ignore warnings.

  • A more detailed examination of his ideas can be found in the Macat Analysis.

Welcome to the Macat Multimedia Series. A Macat Analysis of Leon Festinger’s "A Theory


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レオン・フェスティンガーの『認知的不協和の理論』入門-マカット心理学の分析 (An Introduction to Leon Festinger's A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance - A Macat Psychology Analysis)

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    Aming Chiang に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日