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Communication: Principle of Persuasion
Cognitive Dissonance Theory was developed by Leon Festinger (1957) and it deals with the specific conditions within different cognitions. In this sense, the condition is thought about as part of knowledge. For example, it can be thought about emotion or attitude. When you say that you like the red color it is cognition. One person had hundreds of cognitions at the same time; they change rather fast, as the thoughts. These cognitions could be in whether consonant or dissonant relations to each other.
Cognitive Irrelevance shows that there are two cognitions, but they are not connected in any way. When we speak about consonant cognitions, we mean that they follow each other. Two dissonant cognitions appear in case if the cognition follows from the opposite of the other cognition. (Cooper, J., 2007)
What happens to people if dissonant cognitions dominate their thinking? Actually, the answer to this question is the essence of this theory. If a person has dissonant cognitions he/she lays in a specific state of psychological dissonance and it is said to be a negative psychological situation.
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First of all, to understand the essence of the dissonance and its influence on individual, we need to analyze factors that give a push to its development. Firstly, such a situation arises in case of a conflict between cognitions. It depends also on the number of cognitions that appear in the mind. Another aspect that plays an important role is the attention paid to the dissonant cognitions by individuals. In a situation when a person experiences it, he/she can reduce it. There are several objectives to reduce cognitive dissonance:
-Changing Cognitions. In case if there are two dissonant cognitions, we need to change one of them into the consonant one.
-Adding Cognition. If there are already two dissonant cognitions, there is an opportunity to add one more but consonant to change the situation.
-Altering importance. There should be more attention paid to the consonant cognition (Van Overwalle, F., & Jordens, K., 2002).
Dissonance theory used a method of experiments and could be applied to almost every situation, as it deals with our emotions and feelings. This theory can manipulate people in real life, as it plays an important role in making decisions and solving problems. A certain contradiction takes place in the life of everyone. Giving more weight to some information and makes you chose and lead to the solution of problems. Sometimes we create problems in our head and it is even more difficult to solve them, thus, they exist only in our mind (Chen, M.K., & Risen J.L., 2010).
I am not an exclusion to deal with a cognitive dissonance inside me. Every time I face something new, I try to analyze all advantages and disadvantages of this idea. The same situation took place when I met a new friend, a person who I want to consider as my friend. Public opinion had played its part and my thoughts were divided into two parts: things I admired and things I did not.
My new friend was very kind person always ready to help, moreover, he was very attentive to my opinion and he enjoyed the healthy lifestyle. However, he did not pay enough attention to studying and asked me to follow him. Besides, he fought with his family and people said that he used to lie a lot.
The importance of advantages and disadvantages has a certain difference. These ideas lead me to a dissonance inside my thoughts. My family is very important for me and I think that it is the biggest value in life, thus, I could not make friends with the person, who does not appreciate it..
The decision-making process in this situation depends on my attitude to each of these statements. Finally, I try to make a persuasive attempt and convince myself that every person needs at least a chance to become a part of our life. My dissonant cognitions dominated, as there were negative moments, but I try to concentrate on consonant ones.
As it was said before, dissonance theory provides us with three possible variants. First, you can change the cognition and in this way, you will reduce dissonance. When I have heard that he is not fighting with his family all the time, I changed my opinion about him into more positive. Second, you can add a new cognition to those you already had. I had the idea, that if John attended studying more often probably he would like it. The next way is to change the importance of cognitions. As John never lied to me before, I can reduce the cognition that he lied a lot in the past. Practical usage of the Cognitive Dissonance Theory can be used in a situation when you want to change somebody's attitude to something. You just need to create dissonance while dealing with this attitude. This does not guarantee changes of attitude but gives the possibility of it. Very often this theory is used in advocacy.