Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Dallas Cowboys and their fans hate America.

CU Boulder Psych HW question: "Describe an attitude that is important to you. Discuss examples of affective, behavioral, and cognitive components of your attitude."

Answer that I actually turned in:

As a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, one of my deepest-held attitudes is that the Dallas Cowboys and their fans are terrible people who hate freedom. In terms of affect and emotion, I feel a deep-seated and limbic disgust when I see someone wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey, especially within the boundaries of Washington, D.C. where I live. I feel the blood rushing to my face and I get chills of rage when I see someone wearing a Jason Witten jersey cheering for the Cowboys in a sports bar. These reactions are almost pre-cognitive and visceral – they come before any volitional thoughts or definitive behavior is put into action.
            When I see the aforementioned Cowboys-jersey-wearing individual in, say, a supermarket on Connecticut Ave. near my home in Washington, D.C., especially if they have the trappings of a frat-boy, moved-to-D.C.-to-work-on-Capitol-Hill-for-a-Republican-congressman-type-look, following my affective, visceral reaction, I will actively think sentences like: “Wow, what a jerk that guy must be to like the Cowboys,” and “Yeah, he must work for a Republican Congressman, and probably a corrupt one that thinks atheists are going to hell.” These, interestingly enough, are evidence of innumerable cognitive biases on my part. (However, that does not mean these suppositions are out of the question.) Nonetheless, my own “Cowboys-are-terrible cognition” is fraught with negative biases about the Cowboys and their fans, and I actively seek out examples of why the Dallas Cowboys are so terrible (e.g. signing Terrell Owens, having Tony Romo as a quarterback, being owned by Jerry Jones) so as to “confirm” my own biases about the team. These beliefs “persevere” every time I see a drunken redneck in a Dez Bryant jersey jaywalking, and I conveniently choose to ignore the attractive woman who was kind to me and “just happened” to be wearing a cute, Cowboys tank top. She is the exception according to my cognitive biases, and the inebriated hillbilly is the rule.

            Behaviorally, I will follow up on my emotions and cognitions with out-loud, to-be-overheard-on-purpose statements like, “The Cowboys suck and all their fans are terrible human beings who hate freedom.” I will also shake my head and sigh gutturally when I see a pickup truck on the Beltway inevitably peppered with stupid, little navy blue stars. And when I notice the Washington, Maryland, or D.C. license plates that this Cowboy has on their truck, I will say out loud to myself, “How could anyone be such a traitor?” I also might begin to tailgate them, or cut them off in traffic and drive slower in front of them. And of course, this behavior will elicit an inevitable reaction from said Cowboys fan driver, and this negative reaction will further influence my own ingrained attitude of hatred, intolerance, and active disdain. Though not particularly rational or safe, these behaviors are an excellent example of how cognitive biases can influence human beings to undertake certain chains of behavior, and also subsequently further influence held attitudes.

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