TitleCognitive dissonance as a strategy in social justice teaching
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGorski, P. C.
JournalMulticultural Education

Leon Festinger’s concept of cognitive dissonance can be described as a collision between old beliefs and new information.  Gorski encourages educators to use the notion of cognitive dissonance as a tool to approaching difficult or controversial topics.  According to the theory, once cognitive dissonance has been experienced, the need to restore balance is carried out through acceptance or denial.  In acceptance, student’s perspectives are changed to reflect the new information.  Denial consists of deflection by way of defense mechanisms.  Gorski argues that the goal of a facilitator is to help students shed their academic armor in order to allow themselves to absorb new information.  This brief article offers an example of an exercise that endorses a cognitive dissonance as strategy to teaching social justice.