Explorations in Cognitive Dissonance

By Jack W. Brehm; Arthur R. Cohen | Go to book overview

15Applications of dissonance theory to social problems

In the foregoing chaptes we attempted to present the evidence relevant to the dissonance formulation to evaluate the theory in the light of this evidence and to indicate some possible extensions of the theory and its relationship to other theoretical and empirical models in psychology. As a final comment on the generality and predictive usefulness of the theory it might be valuable to look at it from the point of view of its applicability to some important social issues. The question we shall be trying to answer is: Can the application of the dissonance fomulation to these social problems help to shed some light on the psychological processes underlying these problems and provide some guidelines for social action? Our intention here is not to use these social issues as tests of the theory or as evidence for support of the theory; rather we hope to explore the problem areas we have chosen in terms of whether or not some of the phenomena known to be important can be coordinated to the propositions of the theory. To the degree that they can be so coordinated insights about the social problems my be uncovered and suggestions about research and social action stimulated.

The two problem areas we have selected for discusion are those of desegregation and indoctrination. The former is, of course, a major

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