Thursday, March 18, 2010

Plate Change or Cognitive Dissonance?

We all have experienced irritation when someone has commented that our way of doing certain things are wrong and that what they do is right; suddenly when the same people have to do things our way they come up lame excuses to justify that they are right (without acknowledging the fact that what we were originally doing was not wrong either?). We call it "plate change" ("usne plate change kar diya!" rings a bell?). Well, my Organisational Behaviour textbook tells me that it is called cognitive dissonance.

Example 1: A friend has consistently argued that the quality of Indian cars isn't up to that of imports and that he'd never own anything but a Japanese or German car. B his dad gives him an Indica and suddenly Indian cars are not that bad anymore.

Example 2: A relative who always argued that flat can not be considered a house, has to buy a flat in Bangalore for investment(houses in Bangalore are a dream now, of course) and now says that house or flat, what is the difference, everything is crowded here anyways!

When people experience conflict between attitude and behaviour, they try to find a middle ground to reduce the discomfort caused by dissonance. Next time you do a plate change, I will tell you that your congnitive dissonance can't fool me! ;-)

Couldn't help writing about it. OB as a subject seems fascinating. It approaches human behaviour in a scientific way to analyse why we do/feel/act the way we do in different situations. It also explains methodically at one point why(we all know why!)/how an employee feels disgruntled when he doesn't get promotion that he feels he deserves, especially when it went to a coworker who deserves it less and starts looking for a change in job. If managers started responding to employees, rewarding those who do good work rather than turning a blind eye, so much attrition wouldn't happen. Mangers often "don't get it" and they assume that all is going well is what the writers of the book say. Is any manager listening?

1 comment:

vishnu said...

Nice to c u back to blogging….

Interesting one “cognitive dissonance. “,but the examples you have given looks more like an adjustment u do in your life, a person who dreamed (only) Katrina & ends up with Rakhi, it is better for him to think Rakhi is not that bad...
I think compression should be apple to apple situation or I am wrong in understanding this concept. :)