Leon Festinger Research Paper

Leon Festinger was an amazing psychologist and his findings changed the world for the better. To me, the discoveries he made, made the world much clearer. Born on May 8, 1919. His was born to parents of Russian descent. The City College of New York is where he did his studying in the field of psychology. University of lowa is where he ended up receiving a graduate degree from. While he went to school in lowa, he was mentored by a very well-known psychologist, Kurt Lewin who was also German.

They both ultimately went to MIT or Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1957 is when Festinger issued his best-known work, “A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance”, in which he writes, “the psychological opposition of irreconcilable ideas (cognitions) held simultaneously by one individual, created, created a motivating force that would lead, under proper conditions, to the adjustment of ones belief to fit one’s behavior – instead of changing ones behavior to fit one’s belief (the sequence conventionally assumed).

Being a very laborious scholar and “experimentalist”, he had played out maybe experiments which involved more complex, minor with some surprising components. They were in fact, “the first of their kind to illuminate the rationalizing machinations of the human mind. ” (Slater 112) Festinger has proven that people will make justifications for themselves. Festinger doesn’t make an experiment environment in this case but instead, he send some of his colleagues into this situation to act as they were believers too and played along the lines.

There are a large amount of people involved in this, as they called it, cult. Remind you, the original people are not acting out any of this and they truly believe in it all. Here’s how it goes: a lady, named Marion Keech received a letter from someone named Sananda. But this was no ordinary letter. Keech felt this “high density vibration that caused her hand to shiver across the notebook page, and the words said this “The uprising of the Atlantic bottom will submerge the land of the Atlantic seaboard; France will sink… Russia will become one great sea… great wave rushes into the Rocky Mountains… for the purpose of purifying it of the earthlings, and creating the new order” (Slater 113). ” And this was all supposed to be happening on December 21, 1954 on midnight that day. Now I can see if most of you would not believe what Sananda said or maybe not believe in Sananda, period. But consider this factual or not, multiple people do.

These people have quit their jobs. Like for example, this women, Kitty, had “quit her job, sold her home, and left her infant daughter to take up residence with Mrs. Keech (Slater 114). Even a doctor basically gave his job up because he was just so convinced that this was definitely going to happen. It truly amazes me on the lengths that people go to just in something that they believe. They all meet up Marion Keech’s living room on the night before the flood is about to transpire. All the believers are there along with the disguised researchers. There were instructions, in the form of “automatic writings and phone calls from spacemen posing as people playing practical jokes (Slater 114). Someone found a furtive piece of aluminum foil in the “weave” of a rug.

They thought that it was a message to all the cults’ member from Sananda that everyone needs to have on no account metal from their clothing on them before they enter the “spaceship”. I, honestly, don’t know where they come up with all these ridiculous ways of translating certain happenings. It is now ten minutes till the spaceship is about to land right at the curb. All the clocks ticked till midnight. Midnight is here. All the cult members have been waiting for this moment for a while now. There are lights out in the front yard but it is not what they were expecting it to be.

In fact, they were new broadcasters and their team, “to have some fun (Slater 115). You may think that the cult members would be in hiding from the public because their prediction never came true, however you would be wrong. Surprisingly, the members welcomed the news broadcasters into their home and did a lot of interviews (Slater 115). Usually people would not be that welcoming to camera crews after they were dead wrong. They had to have something to say. And they did of course. But there is only one leader of this cult and that is Sananda.

Sananda sent a message to Keech through a high-density vibration, saying “to contact as many media stations as possible and report that the flood did not come because, “the little group sitting all night long had spread so much light the god saved the world from destruction (Slater 115). ” Keech had “dozens of interviews to reporters, all in attempt to convince the public that theirs actions were not in vain. ” This undercover experiment was a big breakthrough for Festinger. Through all of that happening, Festinger saw “the way people leap to lies, overlook, sift through, sort out, tamp down.

To Festinger, the dramatic increase in public proselytizing following such an obvious failure was completely counterintuitive… (Slater 116). ” Overall, this had become a “basis for a theory. ” The name of this theory is Cognitive Dissonance. He had also designed a series of experiments to follow though this theory. There is this specific experiment that really explains Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance theory. In this experiment, Festinger and his partners “paid some people twenty dollars to lie and other people only one dollar to lie (Slater 116). ” Let’s think about this for a minute.

You are given twenty dollars to lie, would you do it and be over it or would you have to convince yourself that the lie you are telling might be true? Let’s say you get only one dollar to lie, would you be able to just lie about it or would you have to convince that it, again, might be true? This is want Festinger found out: the students that were given the twenty dollars didn’t have to convince themselves to believe the lie. Slater mentions, “The twenty-dollar subjects experienced less dissonance; they could find a compelling justification for their fibs, and that justification had double digits and a crisp snap.

The other students that were given the one dollar changed their beliefs to match their actions. I would think that the people given the higher amount of money would change their beliefs than the other people given less money. Slater states,” therefore, because you can’t take back the lie, and you’ve already pocketed the measly money, you bring your beliefs into alignment with your actions, so as to reduce the dissonance between your self-concept and your questionable behavior. We have heard about this theory playing out in the real world but just didn’t know it.

During the Korean War, the Chinese wanted the Prisoners Of War to write anti-American essays. Most would think that the Chinese would need to use violence or some sort of torture to get the soldiers to write these essays. But that is the opposite of what they did. Instead of torture, they would offer the soldiers some rice or some sort of sweet treat as a reward when they were done composing. In the end, the soldiers would end up converting to communism. Why? Because they brought their “beliefs into alignment with your (their) actions… like Skinner has said, rewards are more effective than torture.

Festinger and his undergraduates learned that there are “… several different forms of dissonance. ” Based off of the cult case he called this form, Belief/Disconfirmation Paradigm. Speaking in terms of the lying for money experiment, he named this type, Insufficient Rewards Paradigm. There is a lot to say about Mr. Leon Festinger. How many discoveries he made and how it has truly affected the world. Reading this chapter has opened up my eyes to the world of psychology