Social Psychology Essay

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On Human Attitude and Behavior

Introduction

Social psychology is a psychological study of how people’s behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are affected by social influences. Social psychologists mainly focus on social challenges such as crime, substance use, prejudice, implicit bias, bullying, and public health (Gilovich et al., 2019). They study social interactions and aspects that influence them, like group behaviors, attitudes, and public understanding. In this paper, two theories of social psychology named terror management theory and cognitive dissonance will be explained to show how they differently focus on society and individuals.

Body Paragraphs

Humans are supposedly the only living being who knows the inevitability of death. It is hard for them to live with this certainty, which brings a high level of anxiety and fright (Gilovich et al., 2019). Terror management theory specifies a kind of defensive human thinking and behavior to deal with the awareness and anxiety of death (Gilovich et al., 2019). For instance, abuse of power among word leaders can be considered instances of terror management theory because they tend to hold on to the power as a result of the concept of death. Also, having a child is something usual we always observe in people’s lives. When this behavior is examined comprehensively, there is a clear connection between it and the death, which reduces self-esteem, worth, and sustainability. Having kids also means persistence because, after their death, their lineage continues to live.

Also, having a child’s responsibility gives people’s lives a significance and makes them forget about death and their temporariness. They care and raise children and feel worthy about leaving a child in this world. Also, taking care of someone’s basic needs, like feeding, clothing, and protecting, makes people think lesser about themselves. They have to think about the child who is under their responsibility. Briefly, the terror management theory believes that there are many usual actions like having babies and taking care of them, which helps people to deal with the idea of death.

Cognitive dissonance theory is another significant theory of social psychology that refers to a situation involving inconsistency between people’s attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts. This inconsistency aims to decrease the discomfort and restore consistency. Leon Festinger, the investigator of the theory, suggests that people’s attitudes and behaviors are in harmony, and they are apt to avoid any dissonance. When an inconsistency shows up between attitudes or behaviors, something has to change to resolve the dissonance. For instance, there are so many people who drink alcohol and also aware of its harmful effects like liver cancer. The behavior, drinking alcohol, and the cognition, liver cancer, reveals a state of cognitive dissonance. To reduce this dissonance, people can say that they do not see any harm of alcohol, and any friends died because of alcohol. Even they can say it makes them happy and relieved. Changing the behavior may look like the easiest option, but it was already in the past, so they find many ways to maneuver. So, by saying it makes them happy, they increase the attractiveness of the already chosen behavior. Using the motto “live for today” is a more preferred option than the “save for tomorrow” to eliminate the dissonance. Shortly, cognitive dissonance is a theory that shows people’s aim for consistency between attitudes and behaviors, and their not very logical methods to achieve this.

Social Psychology Essay: Conclusion

In conclusion, social psychology works on people’s behaviors and attitudes, which are affected by social factors. Furthermore, two theories of this, terror management theory and cognitive dissonance theory, show the complexity of human attitude and behavior and show how they are affected by social influences.

References

Gilovich, T., Keltner, D., Chen, S., & Nisbett, R. E. (2019). Social psychology. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

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