Term Paper: Social Psychology Cognitive Dissonance

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Social Psychology

Cognitive dissonance

This is the feeling that one has within them when they hold two conflicting feelings or thoughts within them at the same time. This usually highlights the importance of the subject within us. Dissonance is said to be strongest when we believe one thing within us and do directly the opposite. It is also said to be strongest when it concerns our self-image like feelings of immorality, foolishness, respect and so on (Rudolph F.M., 2013). The strategy that I will use to encourage people to buy into the idea of recycling will be more of a social campaign. This will be aimed at educating every member of the residence hall on the benefits of recycling, giving them the actual figures of how much the environment gets hurt by simple acts like tossing a polythene bag out of their window. I will also educate them and give them pieces of written literature on how much they can gain, monetarily, when they decide to get into active recycling. These two approaches will ignite the Cognitive dissonance since each person would like to do the good thing that benefits the environment and eliciting the conscious thought stream that they are not doing the right thing will make them willingly participate in the recycling process.

With the eventual dissolution of the dissonance within an individual, a there will be the inner satisfaction and peace. However this peace if not only achieved through finding solution to dissonance within an individual, but also through control of various facts that can be a solution to many of the dissonances and dilemma hence achieving happiness.

There are things that every individual deems essential in pursuit of happiness and most of them are individualistic and personal in choice and use. However, there are three things that in the contemporary society can be argued to be the cornerstone of the happiness that most people are in pursuit of. These three things if controlled can lead to the ultimate happiness and they are Attitude, relationship with others and Positive thinking. When one adopts a positive attitude towards everything they do, there is likelihood of them enjoying the activity and obtaining much more from it than when one has a negative attitude. With much achievement, comes much happiness. One can also control the relationships that they form with others, with fortified relationships among those who positively build you in an all round manner, and a weak relationship with those who constantly try to bring you down, one is bound to achieve a lot of happiness in the society. One can also control positive thinking no matter the circumstance, apparently most people lose hope and direction in life due to the negative attitude they adopt particularly in the face of slight challenges in life. If one is ale to control their thinking to be positive in all circumstances and always look for that little good in every circumstance, they are bound to live a fulfilled life and a happy one, a day at a time.

However, our attitude, relationship with others especially people of a different race and the thinking trend can be influenced significantly by schemas in life and expectations that a person has. Apparently schema is a complex thing to understand yet it is with each person relatively on a daily basis. Schema is defined as a "high-level conceptual structure or framework that organizes prior experiences and helps us to interpret new experiences." (Schank, R., & Abelson R., 1977). Schemas somehow act as a social conscious and storage of history of a people and hence influence, consciously or subconsciously, the interpretation of events that happen in the daily lives and in the future. Interpretations are also guided by previous experiences and history behind particular happenings hence the shaping of the attitudes, relationships and thinking. One such event that to date the schema effect still plays a significant part is the O.J Simpson case where he was acquitted of the supposed murder of the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The judgment left the nation divided along the racial divide more than ever before and none like ever after. Many blacks saw it as a fait trial and that for once the black race received justice after a history of denied justice and wrongful convictions. The white community on the other hand felt that there was malice from the bench that was composed of majority black jurors. The social construct that had been experienced in the past revived the racial injustices that had been seen and each side was not ready to accept the verdict as it was.

It is worth noting that in the OJ Simpson case, one of the reasons for the acquittal was the variance in the testimonies that were given by the witnesses. The testimony of the eye witnesses is taken as one of the central considerations when decisions are being made by the jury over a given case and when there is variance among the witnesses, then the evidence and the case in general is compromised. There is often a problem with relying fully on the eye witnesses since there are various factors that can affect the credibility of the eye witness and the subsequent testimony. There are some frequent problems to do with telling the accurate time, the height, speed, weight as well as accurate identification of the accused person. These can be affected by the age of the witness since witnesses over 60 years of age tend to be inaccurate in their testimony. Other factors are health of the witness which may even change in the course of testifying. Personal biases and expectations, the perception problem, viewing conditions, further discussions with other witnesses, and stress among other factors can influence the quality of the testimony. Self-perception can also play a significant part in the testimony since people with low self-esteem seem to have problems remembering events in the past. People who are not keen on details but are just average person not keen on finer details are susceptible to errors in the process. Relying on the memory is a fallacy since memory is not perfect. In most instances, we do not see things in the accurate sense of it, but even if we do the details do not stay perfectly intact in memory. Human memory can easily undergo distortion as time passes and other interfering factors coming into place.

In cases like the above one, involving murder or violent encounters, the jury often adopts the deterrence theory approach toward curbing such crimes and vices in the society. The white population expected this to be employed effectively by the jury on Simpson but this never happened.

The deterrent punishments are normally handed to people who commit serious crimes especially against humanity. The deterrence theory therefore operates on the premises that when such heavy punishments, some of which are death sentences are handed to the criminal, then it will stop others from getting into the temptation of committing the same crime with the fear that the same penalty will be handed to them as well. This type of punishment exerts preventive force against crime. The interest in this theory is the preventive effect of the punishment and it matters little what means are used in achieving the preventive effect (Kevic C.K., 1983: 1-3). Here, an offender is used as an object to set an example to the rest of the society and to pass a message that to behave in a given manner is wrong and punishable by death or other harsh deterrent ways as the law of the particular land may have it.

This theory presumes that man is always rational even at the point of committing crimes which is not true. As a matter of fact, the deterrent measures usually end… [END OF PREVIEW]

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