Monday, August 19, 2019

Rational Choice versus Cognitive Dissonance Essay -- Terrorism, Suici

Rational Choice versus Cognitive Dissonance Introduction Rational choice theory can sufficiently explain terrorism, suicide bombing, and genocide by simply arguing that each act is the result of an individual making a choice to commit said acts simply because the benefits outweigh the costs. Rational choice theory, however, has a harder time explaining altruism without altering the definition of altruism itself. Cognitive dissonance can also explain terrorism, suicide bombing and genocide because it argues that an individual can reduce dissonance created by these acts in a variety of ways I will discuss later. Cognitive dissonance though, like rational choice, cannot effectively explain altruism. I will argue that cognitive dissonance is the stronger theory in explaining the terrorism, suicide bombings and genocide. Theory Review Rational choice theory is the argues that patterns of behavior in societies are caused by the choices made by individuals as they try and maximize their benefits, while at the same time, minimize their costs. Rational choice theory contends that people make rational choices based on their goals which in turn controls behavior. The theory assumes that individuals are motivated purely by self-interest and the desire to maximize their interests. A key in rational choice decision-making is that individuals have perfect information before making a decision. Cognitive dissonance, originally coined by Leon Festinger, refers to the anxiety that arises when a person holds opposing ideas at the same time. The theory maintains that people are motivated to reduce dissonance and do so by either changing their attitudes, actions and beliefs or by justifying, denying and blaming. Review of Ev... ...nfortunately, I can find no evidence that the theory of cognitive dissonance can explain altruism. In fact, I cannot find any evidence at all that any theory can explain altruism accurately. In my research I did not come across any psychological theories that explain altruism. The closest explanation I can find had to do biology and evolution -- an area that does not have a place within this paper. In conclusion, after careful examination of both rational choice theory and cognitive dissonance I find that cognitive dissonance appears to be more sound in its explanation of an individual’s participation in genocide, terrorism, and suicide bombings. Cognitive dissonance focuses primarily at the individual level for explaining why individuals participate in said act whereas rational choice theory often had to resort to examining actions at an organizational level.

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