Now listen to part of a lecture about this topic in a Sociology class.
Professor (male) : This is a true story from my own life. In my first year in high school, I was addicted to video games. I played them all the time and I wasn’t studying enough. I was failing Chemistry that was my hardest class. So this was a conflict for me because I wanted a good job when I grew up and I believed, I knew, that if you want a good career you gotta do well in school. But I just couldn’t give up video games! I was completely torn.
And my solution was to change my perspective. See, the only class I was doing really badly in was Chemistry. In the others, I was OK. So I asked myself if I wanted to be a sociologist. So I told myself my chemistry class didn’t matter, because sociologist don’t need to know chemistry. In other words, I changed my understanding of what it meant to do well in school. I reinterpreted my situation. I used to think that doing well in school meant doing well in all my classes. But now I decided that succeeding in school meant only doing well in the classes that related directly with my future career. I eliminated the conflict, at least in my mind.
Using the example discussed by the professor, explain what cognitive dissonance is and how people often deal with it.
Cognitive Dissonance is a kind of mental discomfort people feel when they experience contradictions between their actions and their beliefs. The professor uses his own experience to illustrate this phenomenon. When he was in high school, he was addicted to video games. He didn’t do well in study and even failed in chemistry. He knew he should study well in order to find good jobs and have a good career. But he just couldn’t give up video games. And this was his conflict. His solution was to change his perspective. Chemistry was the only class he did badly. He was pretty sure that he wanted to be a sociologist and being a sociologist doesn’t need to be well in chemistry. So he reinterpreted his understanding of doing well in school. Initially, he thought he should do well in all subjects to be successful in school. But then, he thought he should only do well in the subjects that are directly related to his future career. So he changed his belief to eliminate the conflict.