Journal 6

My dad was a person who is obsessed with desserts and all sweet food. Whenever he made any dishes, he always put a lot of sugar in it, which makes my mom suffer from too much sugar all the time. However, this year when he went for a medical examination, he was found hypertension and the doctor suggested the cause to be eating too much sweet food. Knowing about this fact, my mom told my dad that he could no longer eat as much sweet food as before, but he still went his own way secretly. One day when my mom found that he was still eating many desserts, she had a quarrel with him, stating that what he was doing could hurt his body, but my dad argued that his dad, who was my grandfather, who was also addicted to dessert and other sweet food, was very healthy as age of 80. He also said that there were many centenarians who love eating sweet food or even smoking and drinking all the time, but still had healthy bodies.

As a person who was also addicted to desserts, I really understood him. But looking at this experience from a psychology perspective, we can find that when cognitive dissonance happened and how dissonance theory applied to real life. Cognitive dissonance indicated a feeling of discomfort that results from holding 2 conflicting beliefs. My dad knew that eating sweet food was not good for his health, but he still loved them so much. 2 conflicting beliefs raised and therefore he felt inconsistent and uncomfortable. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, cognitive dissonance theory said that something much change in order to reduce dissonance. Consequently, my dad gained a new cognition that many other people who also loved eating sweet food or even had worse living habits could be healthy, creating dissonance among cognitions.

Such experience can also be explained with Theory of Planned Behavior. Here is a picture that fully illustrate what does this theory mean:

TPB graphic

Here my dad had a positive attitude toward sweet food; my mom, who referred to the subjective norm, told him eating sweet food was bad for his health, however, my dad then thought that he didn’t have the will power to quit this habit, therefore he still ate sweet food as before.

This two explanation both describe how attitudes form, change and then influence our behaviors. However, the question I now have after considering the experience in light of psychology viewpoint is whether everyone is affected on the same level. To be specific, if a person is low self-esteem, as we learned from the process of attitude change through Elaboration Likelihood Model, he or she is easier to persuade, comparing to high self-esteem person. As a result, in Planned Behavior Theory, high self-esteem people might be less affected by the subjective norms, because they are confident of themselves so that they are less likely to comply to normative beliefs.

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