The study compares the role of emotions in the research on optimism and the role of emotions in research on altruism. The lead is taken from Sutton's lecture that is on optimism and of van Vugt that is on altruism. At the very onset it is best to say that available material on the altruism side is much more than on the optimism side…
The study then focuses on the identity with its definition and how society itself fosters identity in individuals. It next utilises the research of Taylor and Brown (1988) to show how positive illusions can not only boost self-enhancement but also, at right levels, enhance societal objectives too. This is the crux of the study and it goes on to utilise the research of Van Vugt et al to show how self-enhancement motives can be made to dovetail with altruistic motives. The study concludes on the note that a society which generates the minimum amount of cognitive dissonance in individuals in the apparently conflicting aspects of self-enhancement and altruism by showing that both are compatible to a great degree will be successful in survival.
Though there seems to be an apparent conflicting role of emotions in promoting personal welfare compared to social welfare Nathaniel Branden, psychotherapist, author and consultant says - "There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity" (Politics of self-esteem). The study begins on this positive note. The statement is true where the self-esteem is balanced and rational, as will be found later. Also, self-esteem is a major part of the positive illusions of Taylor and Brown (1988) that they assert are both normal and adaptive. Self-esteem also is dependent upon an active positive affect (Gibbons, 1986) (Sources derived from: Gramzow, Richard H., et al, 2002).
On the other hand, the altruistic side, van Vugt and Snyder (2001) present a quite optimistic picture of human co-operation based on individual and social motivation and social identity. This issue should be looked at through the particular angle of personal safety that often is dependent upon social security. This is presented by the researchers in the specific forms of collective health scares or environmental crisis, both of which threaten the individual personally but can only be mitigated collectively through dependent social mediums (van Vugt & Snyder, 2001). Though this may seem rather cynical on the surface it is quite optimistic as self-esteem itself provisions society which itself can thrive only through individual well-being. This singularity in well-being of the self is often realised by individuals who then become willing to forsake a part of their individual benefits in favour of societal well-being at large.
The study shall now look into each side of the issue separately.
Cognitive dissonance is a term introduced by Leon Festinger. In 1967 experimental psychologists like Timothy Brock and Joe Balloun showed that subjects created a sort of barrier between themselves and cognitive inputs that were hostile to their own previous beliefs and actions (Negotiating Cognitive Dissonance). Thus, individuals do not induct wholly those inputs that are inconsistent with their own previously held mnemonic schema. These are ...
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Cognition has little or no connections with each other and hence are unrelated. However some of these cognitions are related but they don’t have to follow each other and may furthermore be direct opposites. Many people hate having cognitive dissonance.
The theory replaces previous conditioning or reinforcement theories by perceiving individuals as more purposeful decision makers, as they strive for balance in their beliefs. Cognitive dissonance theory applies to circumstances involving attitude formation and change.
Self attribution which is also referred to as self serving attribution seeks to explain how people justify their behaviors and those of others, with positive outcomes being linked to internal factors and negative outcome to external factors. In order to understand this, tests have been carried out whereby participants are asked questions or given a task then a feedback is given which can be either successful or failure and then the participants make internal or external attribution.
They may do this by changing their perceptions to accept reality. They may alternatively seek information that confirms their beliefs so that the credibility of real experiences is reduced. Some may even ignore the information that challenges their beliefs.
Self-perception theory makes the same prediction. Another person would presumably be most likely to conclude that the person actually disliked the target when he chose to read the harsh evaluation and would not later be able to take it back.
Some researchers have suggested that the evidence for cognitive dissonance can be understood by using an assortment of principles that are purely cognitive in nature and that a motivational explanation is not required.
Some of the greatest tragedies mankind has inflicted on themselves is the result of one man's irrational beliefs foisted on another. The attempt by Nazi Germany to conquer the world is a fitting example. This tiny, landlocked nation had limited resources, limited man power, and faced warfare on every border in order for them to achieve their goal.
What occurred during these years is nothing more than a revolution in thought in which a considerable amount of research into processing models was conducted giving rise to the cognitive research methods giving rise to a school of thought that was able to branch its research into the fields of philosophy, neuroscience and linguistics.
In other words, there is a desire for balance that drives us to eliminate the dissonance by either changing our attitudes or behaviors (Stevens). In that sense, Cognitive Dissonance theory is essentially a theory of behavior
It was easy for me to grasp concepts about cognitive psychology when I looked at the many advantages it offers to the psychologists. For example, I learnt that it helps in cognitive research regarding enhancing memory, improving decision-making capability, and designing
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