You work as a communication specialist at Estee Lauder Companies. Think about the economic and social challenges we have experienced in the last few months. What adjustments should your organization make to be sustainable during these challenging times?  

Write a 2-3 page (single-spaced) internal proposal to address these concerns. Decide on your target audience and orient your proposal towards them. Use a memo format. Remember to include headings such as the introduction, background, solution, and recommendation. Use subheadings if applicable. Be creative in your response. If you prefer, you are welcome to change the name of the company.

You can use the following sample as a guide:You work as a communication specialist at Estee Lauder Companies. Think about the economic and social challenges we have experienced in the last few months. What adjustments should your organization make to be sustainable during these challenging times?  

Write a 2-3 page (single-spaced) internal proposal to address these concerns. Decide on your target audience and orient your proposal towards them. Use a memo format. Remember to include headings such as the introduction, background, solution, and recommendation. Use subheadings if applicable. Be creative in your response. If you prefer, you are welcome to change the name of the company.If you ask the hypnotized young man why he wore a raincoat on a sunny day, he’ll come up with an answer he feels is sensible; if you ask the vice president of Philip Morris why he smokes, he’ll give you a reason that makes sense to him—he’ll tell you how good it is for everyone’s health; if you ask Jones and Kohler’s participants why they remembered one particular set of arguments rather than others, they’ll insist that the arguments they remembered were a fair and balanced sample of those they read. Similarly, the students in the experiment on capital punishment will insist that the evidence against their position is flawed. It is important to note that the world is not divided into rational people on the one side and dissonance reducers on the other. People are not all the same, and some people are able to tolerate dissonance better than others, but we are all capable of rational behavior and we are all capable of dissonance-reducing behavior, depending on the circumstances. Occasionally, the same person can manifest both behaviors in rapid succession. The rationality and irrationality of human behavior will be illustrated over and over again during the next several pages as we discuss some of the wide ramifications of our need for self-justification. These ramifications run virtually the entire gamut of human behavior, but for the sake of conserving time and space, I will sample only Self-Justification 191 a few of these. Let us begin with the decision-making process, a process that shows humans at their most rational and their most irrational in quick succession. Dissonance as a Consequence of Making a Decision Suppose you are about to make a decision—about the purchase of a new car, for example. This involves a significant amount of money, so it is, by definition, an important decision. After looking around, you are torn between getting a sports utility vehicle and purchasing a compact model. There are various advantages and disadvantages to each: The SUV would be convenient; you can haul things in it, sleep in it during long trips, and it has plenty of power, but it gets atrocious mileage and is not easy to park. The compact model is less roomy, and you are concerned about its safety, but it is less expensive to buy and operate, it is more fun to drive, and you’ve heard it has a pretty good repair record. My guess is that, before you make the decision, you will seek as much information as you can. Chances are you will go on-line and sample reviews of the various. You might even read Consumer Reports to find out what this expert, unbiased source has to say. Perhaps you’ll confer with friends who own an SUV or a compact car. You’ll probably visit the dealers to test-drive the vehicles to see how each one feels. All of this predecision behavior is perfectly rational. Let us assume you make a decision—you buy the compact car. What happens next? Your behavior will begin to change: No longer will you seek objective information about all makes of cars. Chances are you may begin to spend more time talking with the owners of small cars. You will begin to talk about the number of miles to the gallon as though it were the most important thing in the world. My guess is that you will not be prone to spend much time thinking about the fact that you can’t sleep in your compact. Similarly, your mind will skim lightly over the fact that driving your new car can be particularly hazardous in a collision and that the brakes are not very responsive, although your failure to attend to these shortcomings could conceivably cost you your life. 18 8 The Social An imal How does this sort of thing come about? Following a decision— especially a difficult one, or one that involves a significant amount of time, effort, or money—people almost always experience dissonance. This is so because the chosen alternative is seldom entirely positive and the rejected alternatives are seldom entirely negative. In this example, your cognition that you bought a compact is dissonant with your cognition about any deficiencies the car may have. Similarly, all the positive aspects of the other cars that you considered buying but did not purchase are dissonant with your cognition that you did not buy one of them. A good way to reduce such dissonance is to seek out exclusively positive information about the car you chose and avoid negative information about it. One source of safe information is advertisements; it is a safe bet that an ad will not run down its own product. Accordingly, one might predict that a person who had recently purchased a new car will begin to read advertisements selectively, reading more ads about his or her car after the purchase than people who have not recently purchased the same model. Moreover, owners of new cars will tend to steer clear of ads for other makes of cars. This is exactly what Danuta Ehrlich and her colleagues16 found in a well-known survey of advertising readership. In short, Ehrlich’s data suggest that, after making decisions, people try to gain reassurance that their decisions were wise by seeking information that is certain to be reassuring. People do not always need help from Madison Avenue to gain reassurance; they can do a pretty good job of reassuring themselves. An experiment by Jack Brehm17 demonstrates how this can come about. Posing as a marketing researcher, Brehm showed several women eight different appliances (a toaster, an electric coffee maker, a sandwich grill, and the like) and asked that they rate them in terms of how attractive each appliance was. As a reward, each woman was told she could have one of the appliances as a gift— and she was given a choice between two of the products she had rated as being equally attractive. After she chose one, it was wrapped up and given to her. Several minutes later, she was asked to rate the products again. It was found that after receiving the appliance of her choice, each woman rated the attractiveness of that appliance somewhat higher and decreased the rating of the appliance she had a chance to own but rejected. Again, making a deci- Self-Justification 193 sion produces dissonance: Cognitions about any negative aspects of the preferred object are dissonant with having chosen it, and cognitions about the positive aspects of the unchosen object are dissonant with not having chosen it. To reduce dissonance, people cognitively spread apart the alternatives. That is, after making their decision, the women in Brehm’s study emphasized the positive attributes of the appliance they decided to own while deemphasizing its negative attributes; for the appliance they decided not to own, they emphasized its negative attributes and deemphasized its positive attributes. The tendency to justify one’s choices is not limited to consumer decisions. In fact, research has demonstrated that similar processes can even affect our romantic relationships and our willingness to consider becoming involved with alternative partners. In a study conducted by Dennis Johnson and Caryl Rusbult,18 college students were asked to evaluate the probable success of a new computer dating service on campus. Participants were shown pictures of individuals of the opposite sex, who they believed were applicants to the dating service. They were then asked to rate the attractiveness of these applicants, as well as how much they believed they would enjoy a potential date with him or her—a possibility that was presented in a realistic manner. The results of this study were remarkably similar to Brehm’s findings about appliances: The more heavily committed the students were to their current romantic partners, the more negative were their ratings of the attractiveness of alternative partners presented in the study. In a subsequent experiment, Jeffry Simpson and his colleagues19 also found that those in committed relationships saw opposite-sex persons as less physically and sexually attractive than did those who weren’t in committed relationships. In addition, Simpson and his co-workers showed that this effect holds only for “available others”; when presented with individuals who were somewhat older or who were of the same sex, people in committed relationships did not derogate their attractiveness. In short: no threat, no dissonance; no dissonance, no derogation. In sum, whether we are talking about appliances or romantic partners, once a firm commitment has been made, people tend to focus on the positive aspects of their choices and to downplay the attractive qualities of the unchosen alternatives. 18 8 The Social An imal The Consequences of Decisions: Some Historical Examples Although some of the material discussed above is benign enough, it is impossible to overstate the potential dangers posed by our susceptibility to these tendencies. When I mentioned that ignoring potential danger to reduce dissonance could conceivably lead to a person’s death, I meant that literally. Suppose a madman has taken over your country and has decided to eradicate all members of your religious group. But you don’t know that for sure. What you do know is that your country is being occupied, that the leader of the occupation forces does not like your religious group, and that occasionally members of your faith are forced to move from their homes and are kept in detention camps. What do you do? You could try to flee from your country; you could try to pass as a member of a different religious group; or you could sit tight and hope for the best. Each of these options is extremely dangerous: It is difficult to escape or to pass and go undetected; and if you are caught trying to flee or disguising your identity, the penalty is immediate execution. On the other hand, deciding to sit tight could be a disastrous decision if it turns out that your religious group is being systematically annihilated. Let us suppose you decide not to take action. That is, you commit yourself to sit tight—turning your back on opportunities to try either to escape or to pass. Such an important decision naturally produces a great deal of dissonance. To reduce dissonance, you convince yourself that you made a wise decision—that is, you convince yourself that, although people of your religious sect are made to move and are being treated unfairly, they are not being killed unless they break the law. This position is not difficult to maintain because there is no unambiguous evidence to the contrary. Suppose that, months later, a respected man from your town tells you that while hiding in the forest, he witnessed soldiers butchering all the men, women, and children who had recently been deported from the town. I would predict that you would try to dismiss this information as untrue—that you would attempt to convince yourself that the reporter was lying or hallucinating. If you had listened to the man who tried to warn you, you might have escaped. Instead, you and your family are slaughtered. Self-Justification 195 Fantastic? Impossible? How could anyone not take the respected man seriously? The events described above are an accurate account of what happened in 1944 to the Jews in Sighet, Hungary.20 The processes of cognitive distortion and selective exposure to information were important factors in the senseless escalation of the war in Vietnam. In a thought-provoking analysis of the Pentagon Papers, Ralph White shows how dissonance blinded our leaders to information incompatible with the decisions they had already made. As White put it, “There was a tendency, when actions were out of line with ideas, for decision makers to align their ideas with their actions.” To take just one of many examples, the decision to continue to escalate the bombing of North Vietnam was made at the price of ignoring crucial evidence from the CIA and other sources that made it clear that bombing would not break the will of the North Vietnamese people but, quite the contrary, would only strengthen their resolve. It is instructive, for instance, to compare [Secretary of Defense Robert] McNamara’s highly factual evidence-oriented summary of the case against bombing in 1966 (pages 555-63 of the Pentagon Papers) with the Joint Chiefs’ memorandum that disputed his conclusion and called the bombing one of our two trump cards, while it apparently ignored all of the facts that showed the opposite. Yet it was the Joint Chiefs who prevailed.21 More recently, President George W. Bush wanted to believe that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that posed a threat to Americans. This led the President and his advisors to interpret the information in CIA reports as definitive proof of Iraq’s WMDs, even though the reports were ambiguous and contradicted by other evidence. President Bush’s interpretation provided the justification to launch a preemptive war. He was convinced that once our troops entered Iraq they would find these weapons. After the invasion of Iraq, when asked “Where are the WMDs?” administration officials said that Iraq is a big country in which the WMDs are well hidden, but asserted that the weapons would be found. As the months dragged on and still no WMDs were found, the officials continued to assert that they would be uncovered. Why? 18 8 The Social An imal Because the administration officials were experiencing enormous dissonance. They had to believe they would find the WMDs. Finally, it was officially concluded that there were no such weapons, which suggests that, at the time of our invasion, Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United States. Now what? American soldiers and Iraqi civilians were dying every week, and hundreds of billions of dollars were being drained from the U.S. treasury. How did President Bush and his staff reduce dissonance? By adding new cognitions to j u s t i f y the war. Suddenly, we learned that the U.S. mission was to liberate the nation from a cruel dictator and bestow upon the Iraqi people the blessings of democratic institutions. To a neutral observer, that justification was inadequate (after all, there are a great many brutal dictators in the world). But, to President Bush and his advisors, who had been experiencing dissonance, the justification seemed reasonable. Several commentators have suggested that the Bush administration was dissembling; that is, that it was deliberately trying to deceive the American people. We cannot be certain what was going on in the President’s mind. What we do know, based on more than 50 years of research on cognitive dissonance, is that although the President and his advisors may not have been intentionally deceiving the American people, it is likely that they succeeded in deceiving themselves. That is, they may have succeeded in convincing themselves that invading Iraq was worthwhile even in the absence of WMDs. 22 How can a leader avoid falling into the self-justification trap? Historical examples show us that the way out of this process is for a leader to bring in skilled advisors from outside his or her inner circle because the advisors will not be caught up in the need to reduce the dissonance created by the leader’s earlier decisions. As the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin23 points out, it was precisely for this reason that Abraham Lincoln chose a cabinet that included several people who disagreed with his policies. Let’s return to the Vietnam War for a moment. Why did the Joint Chiefs make the ill-advised decision to increase the bombing— to escalate a war that was unwinnable? They were staying the course; justifying earlier actions with identical or even more extreme ones. Escalation of this sort is self-perpetuating. Once a small commitment is made, it sets the stage for ever-increasing commitments. The behavior needs to be justified, so attitudes are changed; this change Self-Justification 197 in attitudes influences future decisions and behavior. The flavor of this kind of cognitive escalation is nicely captured in an analysis of the Pentagon Papers by the editors of Time magazine. Yet the bureaucracy, the Pentagon Papers indicate, always demanded new options; each option was to apply more force. Each tightening of the screw created a position that must be defended; once committed, the military pressure must be maintained.24 The process underlying escalation has been explored, on a more individual level, under controlled experimental conditions. Suppose you would like to enlist someone’s aid in a massive undertaking, but you know the job you have in mind for the person is so difficult, and will require so much time and effort, that the person will surely decline. What should you do? One possibility is to get the person involved in a much smaller aspect of the job, one so easy that he or she wouldn’t dream of turning it down. This action serves to commit the individual to “the cause.” Once people are thus committed, the likelihood of their complying with the larger request increases. This phenomenon was demonstrated by Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser.25 They attempted to induce several homeowners to put up a huge sign in their front yards reading “Drive Carefully.” Because of the ugliness and obtrusiveness of this sign, most residents refused to put it up; only 17 percent complied. A different group of residents, however, was first “softened up” by an experimenter who got them to sign a petition favoring safe driving. Because signing a petition is an easy thing to do, virtually all who were asked agreed to sign. A few weeks later, a different experimenter went to each resident with the obtrusive, ugly sign reading “Drive Carefully.” More than 55 percent of these residents allowed the sign to be put up on their property. Thus, when individuals commit themselves in a small way, the likelihood that they will commit themselves further in that direction is increased. This process of using small favors to encourage people to accede to larger requests has been dubbed the foot-in-the-door technique. It is effective because having done the smaller favor sets up pressure toward agreeing to do the larger favor; in effect, it provides justification in advance for complying with the large request. Similar results were obtained by Patricia Pliner and her associates.26 These investigators found that 46 percent of their sample were 18 8 The Social An imal willing to make a small donation to the American Cancer Society when they were approached directly. A similar group of people were asked 1 day earlier to wear a lapel pin publicizing the fund-raising drive. When approached the next day, approximately twice as many of these people were willing to make a contribution. Think back to Stanley Milgram’s classic experiments on obedience discussed in Chapter 2. Suppose that, at the very beginning of the experiment, Milgram had instructed his participants to deliver a shock of 450 volts. Do you think many people would have obeyed? Probably not. My guess is that, in a sense, the mild shocks near the beginning of the experiment served as a foot-in-the-door induction to Milgram’s participants. Because the increases in shock level are gradual, the participant is engaged in a series of self-justifications. If you are the participant, once you have justified step one, that justification makes it easier to go to step two; once you justify step two, it is easier to go to step three; and so on. By the time you get to 450 volts, well, heck, that’s not much different from 435 volts, is it? In other words, once individuals start down that slippery slope of selfjustification, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line in the sand—because in effect, they end up asking themselves, “Why draw the line here if I didn’t draw it 15 volts ago?” The Importance of Irrevocability One of the important characteristics of the examples presented above is the relative irrevocability of the decision. This needs some explaining: Occasionally, we make tentative decisions. For example, if you had indicated you might buy an expensive house near San Francisco, but the decision was not finalized, chances are you would not expend any effort trying to convince yourself of the wisdom of the decision. Once you had put your money down, however, and you knew you couldn’t easily get it back, you would probably start minimizing the importance of the dampness in the basement, the cracks in the foundation, or the fact that the house happened to be built on the San Andreas fault. Similarly, once a European Jew had decided not to pass and had allowed himself to be identified as a Jew, the decision was irrevocable; he could not easily pretend to be a Gentile. By the same token, once Pentagon officials intensified the Self-Justification 199 bombing of North Vietnam, they could not undo it. And once a homeowner had signed the petition, a commitment to safe driving was established. Some direct evidence for the importance of irrevocability comes from a clever study of the cognitive gyrations of gamblers at a race track. The race track is an ideal place to scrutinize irrevocability because once you’ve placed your bet, you can’t go back and tell the nice man behind the window you’ve changed your mind. Robert Knox and James Inkster27 simply intercepted people who were on their way to place 12 bets. They had already decided on their horses and were about to place their bets when the investigators asked them how certain they were that their horses would win. Because they were on their way to the $2 window, their decisions were not irrevocable. The investigators collared other bettors just as they were leaving the 12 window, after having placed their bets, and asked them how certain they were that their horses would win. Typically, people who had just placed their bets gave their horses a much better chance of winning than did those who were about to place their bets. But, of course, nothing had changed except the finality of the decision. Moving from the racetrack to the Harvard campus, Daniel Gilbert28 tested the irrevocability hypothesis in the context of a photography class. In this study, participants were recruited through an advertisement for students interested in learning photography while taking part in a psychology experiment. Students were informed that they would shoot a roll of film and print two of the photographs. They would rate the two photographs and then get to choose one to keep. The other would be kept for administrative reasons. The students were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, one in which they had the option to exchange photographs within a five-day period, and another in which their first choice was final and irrevocable. Gilbert found that prior to making the choice between the two photographs, students liked the two photographs equally. Students were contacted two, four, and nine days after they had made their choice and questioned whether their feelings about the photographs had changed. The results of the experiment showed that the students who had the option of exchanging photographs liked the one they finally ended up with less than those who made the final choice on the first 18 8 The Social An imal day. In other words, once a decision is final people can get busy making themselves feel good about the choice they have made. And thus, it is often the case that people frequently become more certain that they have made a wise decision after there is nothing they can do about it. Although the irrevocability of a decision always increases dissonance and the motivation to reduce it, there are circumstances in which irrevocability is unnecessary. Let me explain with an example. Suppose you enter an automobile showroom intent on buying a new car. You’ve already priced the car you want at several dealers; you know you can purchase it for about $19,300. Lo and behold, the salesman tells you he can sell you one for $18,942. Excited by the bargain, you agree to the deal and write out a check for the down payment. While the salesman takes your check to the sales manager to consummate the deal, you rub your hands in glee as you imagine yourself driving home in your shiny new car. But alas, 10 minutes later, the salesman returns with a forlorn look on his face; it seems he made a calculation error, and the sales manager caught it. The price of the car is actually $19,384. You can get it cheaper elsewhere; moreover, the decision to buy is not irrevocable. And yet, far more people in this situation will go ahead with the deal than if the original asking price had been $19,384—even though the reason for purchasing the car from this dealer (the bargain price) no longer exists. Indeed, Robert Cialdini, 29 a social psychologist who temporarily joined the sales force of an automobile dealer, discovered that the strategy described above is a common and successful ploy called lowballing, or throwing the customer a lowball. What is going on in this situation? There are at least three important things to notice. First, while the customer’s decision to buy is certainly reversible, there is a commitment emphasized by the act of signing a check for a down payment. Second, this commitment triggered the anticipation of a pleasant or interesting experience: driving out with a new car. To have the anticipated event thwarted (by not going ahead with the deal) would have produced dissonance and disappointment. Third, although the final price is substantially higher than the salesman said it would be, it is only slightly higher than the price somewhere else. Under these circumstances, the customer in effect says, “Oh, what the hell. I’m already here; I’ve already Self-Justification 201 filled out the forms—why wait?” Clearly, such a ploy would not be effective if the consequences were somewhat higher, as in matters of life and death. The Decision to Behave Immorally How can an honest person become corrupt? Conversely, how can we get a person to be more honest? One way is through the dissonance that results from making a difficult decision. Suppose you are a college student enrolled in a biology course. Your grade will hinge on the final exam you are now taking. The key question on the exam involves some material you know fairly well—but, because of anxiety, you draw a blank. You are sitting there in a nervous sweat. You look up, and lo and behold, you happen to be sitting behind a woman who is the smartest person in the class (who also happens, fortunately, to be the person with the most legible handwriting in the class). You glance down and notice she is just completing her answer to the crucial question. You know you could easily read her answer if you chose to. What do you do? Your conscience tells you it’s wrong to cheat—and yet, if you don’t cheat, you are certain to get a poor grade. You wrestle with your conscience. Regardless of whether you decide to cheat or not to cheat, you are doomed to experience dissonance. If you cheat, your cognition “I am a decent moral person” is dissonant with your cognition “I have just committed an immoral act.” If you decide to resist temptation, your cognition “I want to get a good grade” is dissonant with your cognition “I could have acted in a way that would have ensured a good grade, but I chose not to.” Suppose that, after a difficult struggle, you decide to cheat. How do you reduce the dissonance? Before you read on, think about it for a moment. One way to reduce dissonance is to minimize the negative aspects of the action you have chosen (and to maximize the positive aspects)—much the same way the women did after choosing an appliance in Jack Brehm’s experiment. In this instance, an efficacious path of dissonance reduction would entail a change in your attitude about cheating. In short, you will adopt a more lenient attitude. Your reasoning might go something like this: “Cheating isn’t so bad under some circumstances. As long as nobody gets hurt, it’s really not very immoral. Anybody would do it. Therefore, it’s a part of human nature—so how could it be bad? Since it is only human, those who get 18 8 The Social An imal caught cheating should not be severely punished but should be treated with understanding.” Suppose that, after a difficult struggle, you decide not to cheat. How would you reduce dissonance? Once again, you could change your attitude about the morality of the act—but in the opposite direction. That is, to justify giving up a good grade, you must convince yourself that cheating is a heinous sin, one of the lowest things a person can do, and that

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