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Cognitive Dissonance

Food for thought.

 

Dissonance theory also teaches us why changing your brother-in-law’s political opinions is so hard, if not impossible—especially if he has thrown time, money, effort, and his vote at them. (He can’t change yours either, can he?) But if you want to try, don’t say the equivalent of “What are you thinking by not wearing a mask?” That message implies “How could you be so stupid?” and will immediately create dissonance (I’m smart versus You say I’m doing something stupid), making him almost certainly respond with defensiveness and a hardening of the belief (I was thinking how smart I am, that’s what, and masks are useless anyway). However, your brother-in-law may be more amenable to messages from others who share his party loyalty but who have changed their mind, such as the growing number of prominent Republicans now wearing masks. Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee said, “Unfortunately, this simple, lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask; if you’re against Trump, you do… The stakes are much too high for that.”

 

 

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