Cognitive Dissonance, Satisficing, Altruism, and Empathy

Cognitive dissonance is a term often used in discussion around these parts. The famous Hamster is expert at assuaging the discomfort that results from discovering that real facts do not align with beliefs (feelings) about what ought to be.

One of the ways dissonance is relieved is a form of something called satisficing. Satisficing is accepting something because it is satisfactory. It may not be optimal, or in the case of the Hamster it may not even be true.  But for a woman seeking dissonance relief a feeling of goodness or virtuousness can serve as external motive enough to work around the dissonance even if not directly addressing it.

Indeed because the Hamster is party to the empathy quest women are on, a flood of empathetic feelings is not only more than enough to bend reality, it is also quite a Pavlovian reward mechanism. This gives rise to women actually seeking out opinions to express about social issues, the dissonance of which can only be relieved by more cow bell empathy.

Empathy for its own sake is a rare gem. Well, no, it is more like unobtainium. It doesn’t exist. It is not possible to feel what another feels or to know so well how the other feels that it is just like feeling it with them.

Altuism has an agape aspect to it in that it is to do something that benefits another with zero benefit to the doer. In other words there is no intrinsic nor external motive. here again, however, the Hamster likes these little altruism pellets because they are easy to work with. The reality can be hidden in the hamsters cheeks. What outwardly looks like altruism, or agape, is actually the satisfaction of empathy craving.

I wrote about a Yale professor acknowledging the empathogasm. He talks about some archetypes of empathy chasers. He mentions those who give little bits of money to many charities or at least keeps every charity solicitation that comes in the mail laying around the house as a sign of intention to give. Or those who speed-volunteer, bouncing from one volunteerism to the next making excuses to abandon those not yielding the rich fruit of empathy to quickly bask in the one where ultimately they receive a kind note or a hug or words of affirmation from a person being helped.

Empathy ruins all of that for women to the extent that I confess to having to hold my mind back from trying to figure out if those like Mother Theresa were for real. It calls to question the entire nature of the churches benevolence in outreach. At the very least it invites deep spiritual scrutiny to bear on individuals who claim to be called to some form of altruism.



3 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance, Satisficing, Altruism, and Empathy

  1. The debate over whether true altruism exists has been debated in the psychological literature for years.

    It’s analog in the Christian world is found in the somewhat circular reasoning that reform/Calvinist theologians engage in when discussing how to detect a person who is “truly” regenerate or not.

    I recently tried to explain to a non-Christian why I try to conduct any charitable work or donating I do in secret.

    He argued, “so how do I know if you have done any?”

    “Exactly,” I said.

  2. @Scott

    t’s analog in the Christian world is found in the somewhat circular reasoning that reform/Calvinist theologians engage in when discussing how to detect a person who is “truly” regenerate or not.

    There is no reason except fear and vanity for there to be circular reasoning. Galatians 5

    13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

    16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

    That doesn’t sound circular. It sounds dreadful because it is pleasurable to do the former, and painful (crucifixion) to do the latter.

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