Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A.O.C.: Songs of Ourselves - Chapter 3

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups

By Danielle Hall

In Sheena Iyengar's The Art of Choosing, each section of chapter 3 expounds on notions of dissonance and the earlier concept of collective choices. The chapter title bears the name of Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself."

At one point, Iyengar discusses the parallels between Whitman's rhetoric of self contradiction as an organic and multi-layered concept. She suggests that ours is more complex when we are unable to or less likely to find balance or reconciliation within our multidimensional selves. Here, she states that many people enter into a state of "cognitive dissonance" when caught between conflicting forces, which are typically our beliefs and actions (97-98).

Even at the core of what we consider to be our own unique qualities and individualisms or what we understand about our path to self discovery are in fact interconnected by both internal and external relationships. Those relationships are related to what we believe about ourselves, the manifestation of our actions, and societal perceptions of who we are. These ideas, more or less, are malleable as we change and develop over time or on a daily basis, with whom and how we interact and navigate throughout various spaces or settings.

What are your responses to chapter 3, especially the idea of cognitive dissonance, the need to "create a consistent story about who we are," or "the evolution of choosing" as it relates to individual or collective decisions?


Nicholas M. said...

Cognitive dissonance is a term that is used to describe the state of holding two or more conflicting ideas, beliefs, values, or emotional reactions. Lyengar gives an example of girl who was born into a wealthy conservative family and was raised to to belief in the values of a conservative, but when she went off to college she began to relate more with the liberal side of politics. She ended up siding with more liberal views, which created tension when she came back from college. What she ultimately did was create her own path, not the path that her parents envisioned. She made a choice to find her own identity, not the identity that her parents had pre-determined. The choices that we make define us as individuals.

Brenda W. said...

Chapter 3 really spoke to me. I love the way Iyengar broke down cognitive dissonance. I often find myself and know many others who struggle with that inner conflict of beliefs and actions. For example, I was raised Catholic but me and my sister feel more Christian; we go to a Catholic church but follow Christian beliefs. It was very similar to the example Iyengar gave of the girl who went off to college and realized she was not conservative; it caused tension between her family kind of how me being Christian causes a little tension in mine. This all shows how we often find the need to paint a different picture of ourselves to the outside world than who we really are inside to please others or to meet society's standards.

Yasmyn K. said...

The term cognitive dissonance seemed prevalent throughout my grade/high school years. Growing up, in a society where people of my color were tended to be stereotyped and discriminated, I felt the need to try to "fit-in" with my peers. Thankfully, I had a family that instilled a sense of culture and pride that allowed me to realize that I do not have to conform to the ways of my peers. I was trying to be a person that I really was not. Iyengar described cognitive dissonance to the "T".