Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cognitive Dissonance for 7th Graders

Here is the content from a presentation on cognitive dissonance that I delivered in my class of 7th graders

Cognitive Dissonance - What makes me sad?

What makes me sad?
अज्ञान (ignorance)
अभाव (absence)
अन्याय (injustice)
अफसोस (regret)
असमंजस (dilemma)

What is the reason for irresolution or dilemma?

Answer: Cognitive Dissonance.

Meaning of the words

Cognition
the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Dissonance
lack of harmony among musical notes.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

The conflict:
Roma knows that smoking causes cancer.
She still smokes because she enjoys it.

…what will Roma do?

The conflict:
Neeta loves Raj
But Raj does not love Neeta

…what will Neeta do?

Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
  1. "The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance“
  2. "When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance"

Some Cartoons/Images:

Example 1:
Attitude: “I am going on a diet and will avoid high fat food”
Behaviour: Eating a pizza or some other high fat food

Reducing Cognitive Dissonance:
  1. Change behaviour/cognition
    (Example: Stop eating the pizza)
  2. Justify behaviour/cognition by changing the conflicting cognition
    (Example: "I'm allowed to cheat every once in a while")
  3. Justify behaviour/cognition by adding new cognitions
    (Example: "I'll spend 30 extra minutes at the gym to work it off")
  4. Ignore/Deny any information that conflicts with existing beliefs
    (Example: "I did not eat that pizza. I always eat healthy.")

Example 2:
Attitude: “I got below average marks in maths, I need to study hard and practice more”
Behaviour: Watching TV

Reducing Cognitive Dissonance:
  1. Change behaviour/cognition
    (Example: Stop watching TV and start studying)
  2. Justify behaviour/cognition by changing the conflicting cognition
    (Example: "I'm allowed to cheat every once in a while")
  3. Justify behaviour/cognition by adding new cognitions
    (Example: "I'll spend 30 extra minutes studying and sleep less")
  4. Ignore/Deny any information that conflicts with existing beliefs
    (Example: "Main toh jyaada TV nahin dekhta")

Example 3:
Attitude: “Bhaiya is a new teacher and is struggling to teach us better”
Behaviour: Fighting in the class, making noise, teasing others, not paying attention

Reducing Cognitive Dissonance:
  1. Change behaviour/cognition
    (Example: Stop disrupting the class and stay quite and pay attention)
  2. Justify behaviour/cognition by changing the conflicting cognition
    (Example: "I'm allowed have fun in the class every now and then")
  3. Justify behaviour/cognition by adding new cognitions
    (Example: "I will study on my own at home or during tuitions.")
  4. Ignore/Deny any information that conflicts with existing beliefs
    (Example: "I am not making noise, Bhaiya is a bad teacher")

Don’t Justify or Ignore…. Change behavior – the choice is yours!

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