Cognitive Dissonance

Two things I’m finding confusing right now:

1. Taste dissonance: grapes and raisins. Given that grapes and raisins are practically the same thing, you would expect their tastes to be complementary. So why is the experience of eating one and then the other in rapid succession so unappetizing? Try it for yourself– it’s surprisingly bad.

2. Not-so-fundamental nature of the ‘Fundamental Attribution Error’. The Fundamental Attribution Error is super cool-sounding. But the phenomenon it describes isn’t really all that fundamental: basically, if you step in poop, I’m likely to assume that it happened because you’re the kind of person who steps in poop, whereas if I do it, I’m likely to assume that its because the poop was poorly placed. This reflects an interesting bias, but it’s not like the phenomenon crops up all that often.

To me, it seems to me that ‘Fundamental Attribution Error’ would better describe the phenomenon where somebody mistakes a symptom of a situation for its cause. For example: lots of people are having accidents, and there are lots of ambulances on the streets– therefore, the ambulances must be causing the accidents. This comes up more often than the step-in-poop phenomenon described above, if you ask me.

I wonder if people who work in various fields of social science are secretly miffed that ‘Fundamental Attribution Error’ got scooped up and used before they had a chance to claim it for whatever mistake-tendency they happen to be researching.

(Image: Josef Muller-Brockmann poster designed for public service campaign against noise pollution. Actually has nothing to do with cognitive dissonance, but works nicely together so long as you don’t speak German).

3 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. Good questions. What is the term for the phenomenon where if you step in poop I laugh but if I step in poop I swear?

    Speaking of poop, and your question about raisins, an ancient elementary school teacher once told us never to eat raisins because they dry the grapes in trays and rats run over them and poop, so you never know if you are popping a raisin or a rat turn. So that could be the explanation 🙂

  2. “Good questions. What is the term for the phenomenon where if you step in poop I laugh but if I step in poop I swear?”

    Spite? Schadenfruede? Plain old meanspiritedness? Fundamental Jerk Error?

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