forum post responses week 4

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In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

NOTE: This assignment is multi-part. Be sure to complete all the parts!

The situation described may or may not call for an imagination stretch or mirror your own experiences and personal views depending on your circumstances. It’s important to approach the first topic from a scholarly perspective and with respect for those whose duties have led to deployment and who do their jobs regardless of personal worldviews. You must anchor your posts in course concepts rather than respond from purely personal opinions and remember if disagreeing, do so respectfully with statements such as, “My position on the topic is…” rather than “I couldn’t disagree with you more…”

Here is a little piece of creativity from YouTube on Cognitive Dissonance at Watch as much of it as you can stand.

1) Consider Pat who is active duty military or in the Reserves. Pat enlisted during a time when jobs were scarce, and our country had not been involved in armed conflict for a number of years. At the time it seemed like enlistment was the best chance of getting job skills, and perhaps a college education when the period of enlistment ended. Considering these very real benefits, Pat mentally blocked the possibility that a war could break out and military and Reserve personnel could be required to serve in it: the mere thought was scary and, besides, Pat grew up in a family with shared opposition to war and hearing from older relatives about all the problems associated with the Vietnam War. Just months before Pat’s period of enlistment was to end, a war broke out and deployments were rapidly underway. If you were Pat, how do you suppose you would feel about this war and your involvement in it? In particular, how do you think you would feel when hearing from those who took the position, “I support our troops, but I oppose the war”? Using the concept of cognitive dissonance, reflect on whether such a belief system is even truly possible (i.e., how can one hold both those two beliefs in the same mind and feel both supportive and oppositional?)

2) Describe a situation not associated with war that you have observed that would be likely to arouse dissonance?

Forum post #1

Part One: In this particular situation, Pat is experiencing cognitive dissonance. He holds the belief, which is shared by his close family members that war is not desirable. However, he joined the military anyway because the country was not involved in a war at the time, and he saw great benefits to military service, including gaining job skills and the potential for receiving a college education. At the time he simply put the thought of the possibility of war out of his mind. However, when a war broke out that he would have to participate in, he found himself very much conflicted because of his belief or opposition to the war. So, how was he to deal with the stress of the conflicting beliefs, and how could he bring those beliefs into harmony?

According to McLeod, 2018, Festinger, in 1957, developed the theory of cognitive dissonance, and realized that people are faced with this dilemma in everyday life often. There is the potential of three ways to solve the dilemma and restore harmony. The first possibility for Pat would be to change one of his beliefs. He could decide that he no longer believes that war is wrong, but that it provides solutions to a world situation. The next possibility for Pat would be to get new information which would cause him to evaluate this particular war in a new light, and even though generally he opposes war, in this particular case, war is necessary. The third possibility for Pat would be to reduce the importance of one of his beliefs.

Given these three possible scenarios, I believe that the third possibility would be the most beneficial way to decrease the dissonance that he felt. Obviously, he believed that the benefits were very important to him when he joined the military. Even though he put the thoughts of a war out of his mind, he obviously knew that that possibility was possible, and so in effect he was already acknowledging that the personal benefits of military service were greater than his opposition to war. He was increasing the attractiveness of his chosen path (to join the military by citing its benefits). When war did break out, he was once again conflicted and would either re-affirm the positive benefits of being in the military, or choose to be in opposition to the war and possibly lose all the benefits that he had accrued. By realizing that his service in the military was creating great opportunities for his future life, then he could choose to reduce the importance of his opposition to the war because of the great benefit he derives from being a part of the military. This also would be his answer to any family members who might question his military service.

Our post requires us to explain whether it is possible to hold to both beliefs that supporting the troops is important and also that supporting the war effort is important. I do not believe that a person can hold to both beliefs at the same level without creating cognitive dissonance. During the time of the Vietnam War there was a great deal of public opposition to the War, but yet many also expressed support for the troops. To do so, I believe that a person would have to reduce the importance of one of those beliefs in order to be relieved of the dissonance associated with holding to two seemingly opposite beliefs. A person would have to weigh in his mind which belief was more important than the other, thus reducing the importance of one of those beliefs. I believe that if, in this case Pat, had used the same technique to reduce his dissonance, then he would be able to understand a person’s statement that he/she supported the troops, but opposed the war. He would understand that that person was placing more importance on the one belief over the other.

Part Two: From personal experience I have seen many incidents where cognitive dissonance was aroused. I grew up in a church that held to a distinctive set of doctrinal beliefs. Because of that, the question has arisen as to the importance of that set of doctrine. If one believes these particular doctrinal beliefs, how important are they? Can one believe these particular doctrines, and also believe that those who do not adhere to them will be saved? In other words: I believe these doctrines but I also believe that those who do not believe them will be saved. Over the years this particular situation has caused me a great deal of cognitive dissonance. My answer has been that I believe these particular set of doctrinal beliefs, but that God ultimately decides who is saved and who is not saved. That has helped relieve some of my discomfort, but not completely as I continue to wrestled with the question.

Forum post #2

Part I

Cognitive Dissonance is a tricky thing to comprehend, especially when one is experiencing it first-hand, because he or she might not even be aware that the process is occurring. In the example provided, the disconnect is involving a military service member that joins the service despite not agreeing with the reasons that nations engage in war. There are several reasons why one might go along with military service in this scenario. One example of a defense would be joining after the events of September 11, 2001, because there are several who are willing to make an exception to a no war stance if the reason for war is motivated by national defense, because that individual now believes that his or her involvement is for a noble cause. This is not unlike the events of Pearl Harbor that officially led the United States to become involved in World War II. This stance is similar to those that believe killing another is morally reprehensible, but would do so to protect their own life or the life of a loved one. One must remember however that joining the military does not mean having justification for following unlawful orders. As the Germans involved with the Nazi party learned at Nuremburg, “following orders” may be a form of cognitive dissonance to protect the self from blame, but it is not a legal defense for war crimes. If one takes the national defense stance, then what happens when the military is engaged in war with a nation that has not directly attacked it? In the case of the United States government and several service members, one modifies the reason for the war; rather than being about defense, the war is about stopping weapons of mass destruction, then about bringing democracy to the Middle East, and finally to stopping terrorism. Each time the reason for something is justified after the fact, those involved must engage in a form of cognitive dissonance to make themselves okay with the fact that their previous assumptions were incorrect, and chose to modify these motivations, or simply ignore the original motivation and adopt the new reason without discomfort. Since I myself was in the military for over ten years and was involved in several of these foreign wars, I cannot pretend to judge nor condemn either the government or the service members for being involved in these conflicts. As far as my personal cognitive dissonance, I told myself that I was doing what I was told, despite not understanding or agreeing with the reasons for doing so; however, I understand that this is the same “just following orders” stance that society generally condemns. I also thought these wars were for a “greater good” at the time. Like the example, I joined for career opportunities and to get money for college, so I understand how that can happen even if one does not agree with the particular war or its justifications. When it comes to supporting the troops, one must accept the fact that the military must engage in the conflicts the US government chooses to involve itself in, so the opinions of the individual service members are largely irrelevant. It is easy to say from the sidelines that unjust wars should not be supported, but one can rarely tell that a war is unjust prior to that war taking place.

Part II

When I was first looking for work after my military career, I considered a career in law enforcement. This included a ride along where I got to spend a shift with a police officer and follow him along on patrols. During this encounter, we were directly to a domestic situation. In this case the wife was clearly being battered by her male partner, because even from the police car I could see that she had a black eye and was holding her arm in a way that suggested a rather severe injury. Despite this, when neighbors called the police due to a noise complaint, she did not wish to press charges against this man. She looked visibly terrified to be in his presence, and the police officer had to call for backup to separate the two individuals, but she insisted she loved him, and did not wish for the police to arrest him or to files assault charges. We ended up leaving the scene without detaining either person or placing an arrest. I could not understand at the time how she could insist that she loved him, despite his abusive behavior and her visible fear of him. She mentioned they had been together several years, so I assume that she told herself that there must be a reason they had been together so long, and she did not wish to end this relationship regardless of its negative aspects.

Forum post #3

Whenever an individual holds two ideas, attitudes, beliefs and opinions (all known as cognitions) that are psychologically at odds or inconsistent with each other (such as, I’m a moral person, but I steal petty cash from my office’s account), a state of tension exists that is known as cognitive dissonance (Aronson, 2011). To assist in this form of absurdity, we build cognitions to bridge the gap between the two original cognitions, or a link that helps justify the two beliefs. “Petty cash is used to help purchase items that increase job performance and that lunch I bought with the petty cash helped me be full, and not being hungry helps me focus on work more effectively. I needed to buy the lunch for work”. Although we think of ourselves as rational beings, humans are motivated by those factors that do not help us be right, but instead by the factors that actually help us believe we are right. Often, dissonance-reducing behavior can be irrational and maladaptive, and prevent individuals from learning lessons or finding reasonable solutions to their problems. We use cognitive dissonance reducing behavior to aid in the defense of our egos, after all, “I could have passed the exam, but the teacher grades me more harshly than other students” and to maintain the positive image we have of ourselves. After making a decision, people tend to emphasize the positive elements of their choice, and ignore the positive implications of the other while underplaying the negatives brought about by the choice. A person who buys a car they are less thrilled with can decide that, at least their car is better than the other cars on the market, and that it was a good deal. They can choose to ignore the fact that they only went to one dealership to car shop. As a defense mechanism, people find ways to focus on the positive attributes of their choices.

With the case of Pat, the Active Duty service member who enlisted under the false pretense of lasting peace in order to gain job skills and an education during a rough economic period, finding himself enlisted at a time when war was imminent must have been a huge case of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, Pat and all his family are against war, so a great internal struggle must be occurring. Pat still would want to identify with his family, however, finds himself at direct odds with their beliefs, and his own personal views. However, Pat is also towards the end of his enlistment, which would suggest at least four years served. During that time, he would have built personal relationships with fellow service members, and would have gained new beliefs or attitudes towards war, and the people out fighting it. I may not agree with what we are doing, but I will support my shipmates, no matter what. My fellow sailors are a part of a special new family that I have somehow found myself in, and even a husband who is what is known as a “lifer”.

If I was Pat, and to be honest, I find myself in almost exactly Pat’s shoes, I would still feel at peace with my decisions, possibly due to my own bridges I have built. I do support our troops, and for all intents and purposes, these are young men and women who took up a cause they honestly believed would help keep our country and citizens safe, or they are other people like me who just want to make a living in this economic climate. Our Sailors have families to support, and from some cases, I have seen people go from living on the streets with no hope, to joining the Navy and gaining a real sense of financial security for the first time in their lives. I am Pat, in this case, I joined the Navy at a time of poor economic conditions after college, and decided that it would be a great resume booster to be a veteran, in addition to a free way to earn my MBA. Not exactly the start of a heroic, self-sacrificing tale. I can admit to that, my reasons for joining were largely self-gained. As a possible war fighter, I still am against unnecessary wars. However, I also believe that certain wars are justified (although, those are few and far between and WWII is the most current and last justified war I can think of, perhaps out of ignorance of current events). I bridge my gap by supporting my shipmates, and focus on what I can do for them. I am lucky, as so far, none of my actions directly contribute to any actions I disagree with. I keep my fellow shipmates safe and properly housed. I believe that since Pat is probably not a direct front lines fighter, his dissonance effect is not that great, since his actions do not have serious consequences. He is not on the front lines launching the missiles (I assume, since he is near to separation and has not had this conflict prior). However, as enlisting in the first place, he is directly responsible for his own actions and choices.

In terms of a situation that would likely arouse dissonance, the first situation I can think of would be peer pressure or a less than legal activity taken by a friend. A group of teenagers would be hanging out at the mall, when one friend steals an item off a shelf. As a member of the group, you did not have a hand in stealing the item, and did not even know the item was stolen until after the fact. How do you justify your morals with your group of chosen friends’ actions? You didn’t steal the item, or assist. However, you were part of the group that stole it, are you still a moral person based off of the group you choose to associate?

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