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Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 443: It Must be Right if Everyone Believes it

This is a continuation from my previous posts starting here - please read for context.

Research has identified two important components of attitude certainty: attitude clarity, which is being clear about what one's attitude is, and attitude correctness, which is feeling one's attitude is the valid or the proper one to hold. Recent research by Petrocelli, Tormala, and Rucker (2007) provides evidence for the distinction between these two components of attitude certainty by showing how different factors affect them. 
Petrocelli and others (2007) first determined their participants felt negatively about a specific attitude issue: requiring students to  carry identification cards with them at all times. The to manipulate the perception of consensus concerning their attitude position, half of the participants were given feedback that most other students (89 percent) agreed with their attitude toward the identification card issue, while the other half were told that most other students disagreed (only 11 percent agreed) with them. Although attitude clarity was equivalent in both the high and low consensus conditions, perceived correctness was greater when consensus was high (the 89 percent condition) rather than low (only 11 percent). So, when we learn that others share our attitudes, it acts as justification for that attitude and thereby increases certainty. 
Clarity, the other component of attitude certainty, reflects a lack of ambivalence about an attitude issue. The more often you are asked to report on your attitude, the more it will facilitate clarity and thereby certainty. Attitude restatement appears to work by increasing our subjective sense that we really do know how we feel about an object or issue. When Petrocelli and others (2007) had their participants express their attitudes toward gun control either several times or only ones, attitude certainty differed. Those in the group that expressed their view more had greater certainty about their attitude toward gun control than those in the group that expressed their view once. - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition), by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

"If everyone else is doing it then it must be OK." 

This is a common fallacy. Why else would this world be like this, a fragmented society living in compartmentalized mental facilities (the fantasies in our minds) and actively ignoring the plight of others?

If everyone is doing it then it must be right, right?

We follow along with all the absurd customs, traditions, norms and social views and values out of the false belief that because everyone else accepts the way these things are then they must be right.

Safety in numbers. At least we are part of the group when we follow the herd. If anyone challenges our beliefs then we can simply overwhelm them with our sheer numbers.We protect our own - except if they choose to believe or live differently to us, then they're out.

If it looks like a pig, sounds like a pig, but everyone is calling it a duck - then it's a duck - to say otherwise would mean social ostracism.

Unfortunately we are of the nature (apparent) that we will bully, tease, hurt, ignore, neglect and even kill those who dare to challenge us. We do not have the grace to hear, nor do we have the wisdom to be willing to test every thing ourselves. We prefer to live rigidly, within strictly defined rules and limits, refusing to acknowledge any possibilities other than those we believe to be true/relevant. We do not have the patience to take the time to really get to know another person, or understand their perspective. We have our opinions and we refuse to consider anything else.

Confidence comes from articulation - the better we are able to articulate our views, the more likely we are to be more committed to them. We get better at convincing ourselves of the validity of our views. If only we spent more time questioning our views and less time steamrolling anything that challenged our views.

This is why there are so many contradictory studies and results in the world. We have become so good at convincing ourselves that our opinions are the "correct" ones that we can almost prove they are. Unfortunately, there is a group of people who are trying equally hard to prove their own opinion(s) - and they're also managing to get "positive results".

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