Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Social Psychology - Internal Versus External Justifications

Question :

What are internal justification and external justification? To what extend can they be applied in voluntary services with inadequate rewards in general?


External Justification is when we search around to find external justification for the tensions we are experiencing (cognitive dissonance). For example, believing it is all right to tell a harmless lie to avoid hurting a persons feelings. Other examples are drunkenness, as an excuse for not being responsible for one's behaviours. Reward is another example ie money. It is when we try to justify ourselves.

Internal Justification is when we cannot find enough external justification for what we have said that we use internal justifications. It is when we change the direction of our statements, thus reducing dissonance.

How does this apply to voluntary services with inadequate rewards?
In a city where everything costs, and costs alot, and where volunteers are very limited, there could be tension when volunteering. We could say that the volunteer was drawn to the cause, liked the people, feel good/valued by helping.


Another Answer:
External justification – when we say or do things that arise cognitive dissonance, we reduce discomfort by justify externally that we are not in control of causing such dissonance, due to under the threat of punishment or the enticement of reward.

Internal justification – when we say or do things that arise cognitive dissonance, if there is lack of external justification, we justify internally by changing our attitude to reduce the dissonance between attitude and behavior.

Volunteers tend to be extremely dedicated to the cause that they work for, relative to the employees of the organization who get paid for doing good for the society. As volunteers do not get paid (inadequate reward), there is a strong dissonance of agreeing to do volunteer work without pay, even though there are other people who got paid for doing good deeds (employees at charitable organizations). They tend to justify their work by strongly believe in the work that they do, thus modify their attitude. The behavior of dedicating time and effort not for financial reward needs to be justified, so attitude is strengthened to justify the behavior.

The same goes for employees, who work for charitable organizations, accept lower than market standard pay (this is true for most part of the developed country, and especially true in Hong Kong). They justify it by believing more in the cause of the organizations (change in attitude) than those who work for organizations who pay market standard. This has greatly impact the organizational culture within NGOs, where in general employees have a greater say in management decisions than other non-NGOs, because the employees believe that they are more personally invested in the organization, thus more say.


Another Answer:

Internal Justification: Justifying one's "belief" by means of modifying one's attitude towards his or her own personal statements or beliefs.
In this case, I would think of serving others as a greater need than personal monetary or statutory benefits. And maybe personally, I have another job that covers all my basic needs.

External Justification: Justifying one's "belief" through situational means.
In this case, I would think of other clinical psychologists volunteering also. And it is more of a communal, societal and national patriotism.

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