Fear of negative evaluation
Self-monitoring--the masks we wear
When our attitudes (the feelings and cognitive parts) are strong
and clear, our behavior is usually in line with the attitude. But it is not
uncommon for our behavior to differ from our weak or ambivalent
attitude towards an act. Examples: we smoke or drink in spite of
knowing the harm it can do and feeling that smoking or drinking is a
nasty habit. We think we agree with the Golden Rule but we don't act
that way. We procrastinate in our studies in spite of knowing many
reasons to study and feeling good about doing well in school. We act
friendly towards people we dislike or think badly of. This situation
where you think one way but act another is called cognitive
dissonance. There is a tendency--a pressure--to become cognitively
consistent, i.e. to get the three parts in agreement, so we tend to
change our thinking to fit our feelings or change our thinking-feelings
to fit our behavior and so on. The point here, however, is that you
should not be fooled by these inconsistent attitudes. There are
probably many of them. Carefully attend to all three parts of an
attitude--thoughts, feelings, and actions. Any of the three may be a
problem or in need of strengthening.
To understand our attitudes, we need to explore several areas:
How strong are my feelings about a person, a belief, a thing, or
a situation? Are these emotions changeable and in need of
change? Am I prejudiced? Are my emotions irrational?
How detailed and clear-cut are my thoughts and judgments
about this person, thing, or event? Where did these ideas come
from? Are my ideas and views reasonable? Am I using
stereotypes or over-generalizing? What other information do I
need? Are there other ways of looking at the situation?
How would I like my behavior to be different? Can I change the
behavior directly or do I need to change my thinking or feelings
This kind of self-exploration will clarify your current attitude about
any issue that concerns you and, in fact, may lead to changes rather
automatically or, at least, help you plan for changes.
STEP TWO: Find new attitudes that seem useful.
New or different attitudes are advocated by many sources.
Religions preach certain attitudes, like love one another, respect your
parents, everything comes from God, sin is punished, etc. Therapies
teach us to like ourselves, take responsibility for our feelings, expect