Monday, February 15, 2010

Lying to other people is one thing, but actually lying to yourself? It may seem like a hard thing to do, but actually (and unfortunately) it is easy and common. The article that I read in social psychology was on cognitive dissonance, specifically how it is possible to lie to yourself.

The writer starts by explaining a ground breaking experiment that took place in the 50’s as though you were in it. Basically you were told that all the subjects were split into two groups, and the other group received certain expectations about the task they were about to do, while your group was about to do the task with no expectations at all.

The task you are set is an extremely boring one for long periods of time. After you’re done, the experimenter tell the you how everyone else found it very interesting, which is strange to you, as you found it so boring. The experimenter then tells you that the person who is supposed to prep the “expectation” group hasn’t shown up, and could you please set the task up by telling them the expectation of “this is going to be very interesting.” You are paid to tell the next group of people that you found the experiment very interesting. After hearing that everyone else found the actions (which consists of moving spools around in a box for a half an hour, then moving pegs around on a board for the next half an hour) exciting, and then being actually paid to lie about it, you start to think, perhaps that was really interesting.

Cognitive dissonance is about how your brain deals with the contradicting facts of how you didn’t think it was interesting and everyone else apparently did. You then truly start to believe that you found the experiment interesting. This is very apparent in daily life, mostly when you find that everyone else doesn’t or does like something, you start to have the same feelings, no matter what your feelings were before you found out about what everyone else thought.

How and why we lie to ourselves

-Lauren Dakai

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