Something I've been thinking about , and would love some input on.
The question of how governments, or large corporations facilitate bevavioral change in the public is one I find fascinating, and I've been wondering
if and how it may occur in relation to cognitive dissonance theories.
For anyone not familiar with the idea full information can be found here
, but in short
cognitive dissonance is when someone experiences two conflicting states of cognition. Typically when this occurs, a person will subconsciously alter
their beliefs or self-concept in order to eliminate the dissonance.
There are many well documented cases of these principles being applied to modify the public's behavior in relation to issues such as littering,
condom use, and racial tolerance, all with at least some demonstrated success (see here
for more information). It is in these cases that the term hypocrisy comes up, creating a sense of how things should be done that is at odds with what
people actually do.
Given the relative ease with which these techniques have been used, what are the chances that they same thing is being done more clandestinely?
A simple example that might be done with sufficient long-term planning is telling people some is wrong and associating it with some kind of
punishment, and then later legalizing it. This would increase the chances that people would adopt that behavior. This is also well borne out in
experiments and is called 'Induced-Compliance'.
Another example would be 'Effort-Justification', this is where someone engages in unpleasant activities to achieve some desired goal. The effort
expended then reinforces the belief that the end goal is rewarding. Think about consumption and work ethic, where society in general places a large
value on work ethic, and it is justified by what we are able to purchase with the rewards of our labors.
There are so many examples of where media propagates conflicting messages of what we should do versus, while representing the opposite behavior as
being desirable I hardly know where to start.