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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 431: And This is How Brainwashing Begins

I am going to pick up from this blog, where I started discussing various aspects of the nature we call human. I am basing these discussions on the same book: Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition) by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe & Donn Byrne (Pearson international edition). This blog is an introduction, specifics will follow in blogs to come.

So I am starting a new branch of discussion from the tree of psychology about Attitudes - ie Evaluating and responding to the social world (thanks to the book for lending the words):

Social psychologists use the term attitude to refer to people's evaluation of virtually any aspect of their social world (e.g., Olson & Maio, 2003; Petty, Wheeler, & Tormala, 2003). People can have favorable or unfavorable reactions to issues, ideas, objects, a specific behavior (such as cheating on an exam), or entire social groups. Some attitudes are quite stable and resistant to change, while others may be unstable and show considerable variability depending on the situation (Schwarz & Bohner, 2001). We may hold some attitudes with great certainty, while other attitudes may be relatively unclear or uncertain...
... Because attitudes influence behavior, knowing something about them can help us to predict people's overt actions in a wide range of contexts. Recent research found that advertisements resulting in formation of a positive attitude and inducing willingness to purchase a product had persuasive slogans that matched participants' goals orientation (Werth & Foerster, 2007). Knowing how a person generally approaches situations - whether in terms of the gains to be had or the possible losses to be prevented - can determine the most effective route to attitude change. 
For people whose goals are prevention focused - concerned about avoiding losses - a persuasive message that focuses on safety is most effective. On the other hand, for people who are promotion focused - concerned with not missing an opportunity to benefit - a persuasive message that focuses on comfort is most effective.

It amuses me how easily the term "brainwash" is thrown around when people are confronted with some idea that opposes their own beliefs. It amuses me, because we are all so superbly brainwashed - it is somewhat of a paradox. How are we to ever lift ourselves from this brainwashing, if we resist any information that may enlighten us of our state with a passion?

(Question) "Did you ever consider the possibility that you have been brainwashed from the very first instant you cam into existence?"

(Response) "What! You're crazy! YOU are the one who has been brainwashed! F**king psycho. Loon." *Then we go buy useless stuff we don't need because we neeeeeed it*

We go about our days and lives thinking that we are in control, that we think only those thoughts that we want to think, because we are the ones who came up with those thoughts and that we are who we are because we decided to be this way. (But then, when asked why we do certain things, we blame it on our nature and claim to have no control over our thoughts, words or actions. Hmmm)

A child growing up in a Christian home will not spontaneously become a Buddhist because that is "who they are" - the child will, in all likelihood, be a Christian - at least for a while. The child cannot claim that he/she was a Christian because of God, Jesus or the bible - the child was a Christian because his/her parents taught him/her to be. (I will go into something called "classical conditioning" in future blogs, which will explain how parents teach children to be a certain way and have particular beliefs and views.)

Do you like the things you like because that is a part of who you are, or do you like these things because our society has persuaded you to like these things, with pretty pictures and words to convince you?

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