Now, let’s get into something called
the Cognitive Dissonance Theory.
And this is a unique scenario of
when you’re suddenly conflicted
and this the mental stressor
by an individual who holds contradictory
beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.
Let’s say for example
I really don’t believe in eating meat
but you’re put in a scenario
where you’re having to eat meat.
Let’s say you are a vegetarian and
you’re going away on vacation,
your plane crashes and
you end up on an island
and you’re having to survive and
the only way you can survive
is to eat some of
the local meat.
You have to hunt and find
a boar and hunting --
To live and to survive you’re
now having to eat meat
and that’s contradictory
to your beliefs of --
well, I’m a vegetarian.
So as humans we strive for what
we say internal consistency.
Otherwise, we become
So this, you’re now going
against what your --
your behaviors are going against what
you believe, what your attitudes are.
Now if dissonance is achieved,
motivations to change attitudes
and/or behaviors are reduced.
So, if you really are at contention here,
it’s really difficult and
you don’t know what to do
and so it’s harder for you to
actually change your attitudes.
Now when you’re in this
type of dissonance,
individuals will also avoid situations
and novel information that
would increase dissonance.
Now if you are in this scenario
of being landed on this island,
an individual will
say, “Well, listen,
you really should eat meat and
eating meat is a good thing,”
and you’re in a debate where people are
showing the strengths of eating meat
and you’re really a vegetarian.
You don’t want to be
in that situation
and you’re going to try and withdraw
yourself in that experience,
that conversation because that’s
going at odds with what you believe.
And so we don’t like
that internal struggle.
We like internal consistency, we don’t
want to have that struggle to debate
and decide what we want to do.
Now here’s a story that’s
been thrown around
that highlights some of the
different phases of dissonance
and here is a simple story
of the fox and the grapes.
And after I tell you the end of the story,
you’ll realize that you’ve
heard portions of this before.
So here’s our good friend the fox
and the fox is walking around and he
sees some juicy, delicious grapes.
He really wants the grapes.
So he desires something.
But then he realizes that they’re up kind
of high and he can’t climb that high,
so they’re kind of unattainable for
him, he can’t reach the grapes.
And so what does he do?
He says, “Those grapes are
terrible, they’re sour.
Why would I want
those sour grapes?”
And so he criticizes the actual
item that he originally wanted
and that allows him to accommodate for
the fact that he couldn’t what he wanted
so he has resolved his internal struggle
by criticizing the exact
thing that he wanted.
Now you may have heard of
that saying “Oh sour grapes.”
Or you know, when you don’t get what
you want don’t be sour about it.
This is the story they’re
actually referring to.
So what this person has
done, in this case the fox,
is they’ve adapted their preference, so we
call that adaptive preference formation,
and they’ve now adapted their attitude
towards what something that they
originally wanted, which was the grapes,
into being that I don’t
really want that anymore.
So another scenario might
be let’s say for example
you want to go to medical school,
that’s all you ever wanted as a child.
You drew pictures of being a doctor,
you have a little medical kit
and you played with that,
then you go and write the MCAT
and you try and apply
to medical school
and you realize you
can’t get in anywhere.
This is not going to happen to you but
this could happen to somebody else,
and now you don’t get in to medical
school and what do you say?
You say, “Well, you know what?
I never really wanted to be a
doctor anyways. Who wants that?
You have no life, you’re always
around blood and crazy hours --.”
And now what you’ve done is you actually
realigned your original attitudes
toward being a doctor to
align with your reality,
and so your behavior
changed according to that.
So as you can see, all of these different
things are related in shaping your attitudes,
the ABCs, the affect,
behavior, and cognition,
and at the end of the day,
the attitudes that you have can be
influenced by any of those three.