1. Do you personally do anything to lessen poverty in our country (e.g., donate money to a shelter or charitable organization)?
2. Do you personally do anything to lessen pollution (e.g., vote for “green” political representatives, support recycling in your community, make fewer trips in your car)?
3. Do you personally exercise your freedom of speech (e.g., actively participate in town meetings/protests, vote in every election for which you are eligible, write to your congressional representative)?
What does this tell us?
• The attitude and behavior surveys might have highlighted discrepancies between what you said that you believe and what you actually do. You may be feeling some level of discomfort because of this difference. This cognitive dissonance sometimes motivates us to either change our attitudes or our behaviors or both, so that they are more congruous (matching). Check for incongruities (mismatches) between your feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
• When people experience cognitive dissonance, the result is unpleasant and the motivation is to change something so that the unpleasant feelings are reduced or eliminated. There are three basic things that people can do to reduce cognitive dissonance:
• 1. Change the conflicting behavior to make it match the attitude.
• 2. Change the current conflicting cognition (thought) to justify the behavior.
• 3. Form new cognitions (thoughts) to justify the behavior.
ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Did you experience Cognitive Dissonance during this exercise? If yes, what did you do to decrease it? Can you think of another time in your life when you experienced Cognitive Dissonance? How did you lessen it then?
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