In this assignment, you will assess how your attitudes and behaviors connect in order to understand how cognitive dissonance as a cognitive process can influence the way you think and what attitudes you hold. This assignment is divided into three parts, so it is suggested that you begin working on it in advance.
Part I: Pick a debatable issue that you think is important to address in society today (e.g., universal healthcare). Write a paragraph discussing why you care about and agree with the importance of this issue, and why others should care about this issue as well. Allow one day before moving on to the next part.
Part II: Make sure at least one day has passed since writing the first paragraph. Now, write another paragraph detailing what you personally do to promote this viewpoint. What actions do you take to support this cause? How have you specifically contributed to promoting this issue in the recent past? You will include both of these paragraphs in your essay.
Part III: To complete your essay, identify your chosen topic in an introductory section and include your paragraphs from Parts I and II. Then, reflect on your previous responses by addressing the following points.
- Discuss the differences between your arguments from the first paragraph (in which you show the importance of the topic) and the second paragraph (in which you discuss how you personally act on your viewpoint). Are your attitudes about the importance of the issue reflected in your behaviors (i.e., is there dissonance between your attitudes and your behaviors)? How do you feel about the level of dissonance between your attitudes and behaviors?
- Elaborate on whether you think that your opinion of the importance of this topic has changed, particularly thinking about your initial thoughts on the topic before you wrote either paragraph.
- Briefly describe how experiencing cognitive dissonance about a debatable issue may make a person more susceptible to social influence, such as conformity, from others who hold opposing opinions.
Throughout your discussion, incorporate research on cognitive dissonance from your textbook or another resource to support your claims.