December 8, 2011

A College Class All About Me

Thank heavens I have finished this term! I am so over all my art classes and am glad I don't have to do an art project again!

I took a Communication class this term focusing on persuasion. I loved it. Great professor, good content and well taught. There was one section of the class that I felt was the "Trevor" section. It was about cognitive dissidence. It was describing my life 100%. I decided I wanted to share the notes from this section, so I will post it over several coming posts, since there is a lot.

Let me know what you think.

Comm 314, Chapter 9, Cognitive Dissonance Theory
Cognitive dissonance -- Holding two or more contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time creates instability and imbalance that the person will strive to stabilize and bring back in balance, often through attitude change.  It is defined as, 
“A negative unpleasant state that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent” (Aronson, in Perloff, p. 239).
Developed by Leon Festinger and introduced in 1957, cognitive dissonance is among the most influential of social psychological theories.

Major points:
  • We each carry around a great mass of cognitive elements:  attitudes, belief, values, intentions, perceptions, information, knowledge of our own behaviors.
  • These relate to each other in a system, with the elements being irrelevant to each other, consistent (consonant) with each other, or inconsistent (dissonant).
  • Consonance or dissonance is determined within a person’s belief system and should not be imposed from without.
Two overriding premises:
  • Dissonance produces tension (psychological discomfort) that creates pressure towards change.
  • When dissonance occurs, the person will try to reduce it and even avoid situations that are likely to create it.

Dissonance can occur in these situations (and probably others):
  • You hold two clearly inconsistent thoughts:
I generally like candidates who are Republicans.
But I consider myself an Independent.
  • You freely act in a way that is inconsistent with a strongly held belief.  
I believe in protecting the environment.  I did not recycle this week.
  • You make a decision that rules out another possibly equally good decision.
I chose to go to the mountains for my weekend getaway.  The beach would have been nice too.
  • You expend a lot of resources – time, money, energy, emotion – on something that turns out perhaps not to have been worth it.
I can’t believe I worked so hard on that, and for so little return.  
  • You can’t find sufficient psychological justification for what you believe or do.

Why do I worry so much about what that guy thinks, when he is such a loser?
The amount of dissonance felt will depend upon the importance of the issue and the centrality, range and integration of the belief system in which it occurs.

All notes are from J. David Kennamer, Ph.D., Portland State University.


  1. Interesting. I look forward to reading your further notes as I have really been feeling this a lot lately myself.

  2. I have a good example of cognitive dissonance:

    A gay man married to a straight woman.

    The example, of course, is me.