Gender Equality And The Cognitive Dissonance Theory By Festinge

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The De Beers Diamonds campaign created a product that would influence female empowerment simply through the purchase of jewelry. When men are ready to take a women’s hand in marriage, he proposes with a ring, which he then places on her left hand if she say yes. At the time when marriage rates were falling and the number of engagement rings purchased decreased, J. Walter Thompson introduced a campaign that targeted single, middle-class women with the prominent tag line “women of the world, raise your right hand.” The product was a diamond ring designed for a women’s right hand that represented her independence and self-love. In just the first year of the campaign, the sales jumped fifteen percent. In addition, the campaign won a “They Get It” award from the Advertising Women of New York. It was brilliant product, until women started to develop dissonance towards it. The right-handed ring sold a few years back; however, I do not think it would sell in today’s time.

The cognitive dissonance theory was developed by Festinger in 1957. This theory describes relationships among cognitive elements, such as opinions, beliefs, attitude, or knowledge about people, objects, issues, oneself, etc. Consonance exists when two or more cognitive elements complement each other and do not contradict. Festinger argues that people strive for consonance. On the other hand, dissonance exists when two or more cognitive elements do not align and contradicts. This may lead people to psychological discomfort. Dissonance can occur due to four reasons; logical inconsistencies, cultural conventions, specific behavior or opinions that contradict the general opinion, or past experiences that conflict with current experiences. People strive to reduce dissonance in many ways. A few common ways are to change behavior, change one attitude or belief or cognitive elements, add new beliefs or cognitive elements that dispute the belief/element that is leading to dissonance or reconcile two dissonant beliefs or elements.

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Using dissonance themed advertising, the De Beers campaign came up with a new angle for the product. Taking advantage of women’s possible feelings of division and anxiety, the advertisements focused on the opposing ideas and identity between romance and freedom. The campaign created magazine tag lines that made women, including myself, think twice about actually buying a right-handed diamond ring. Some tag lines were; “Your left hand says you’re taken. Your right hand says you can take over. Your left hand celebrates the day you were married. Your right hand celebrates the day you were born. Women of the world, raise your right hand.”, “Your left hand sees red and thinks roses. Your right hand sees red and thinks wine. Your left hand says, ‘I love you’ Your right hand says, ‘I love me, too’ Women of the world, raise your right hand.”, and last but not least, “Your left hand says “we.” Your right hand says “me.” Your left hand loves candlelight. Your right hand loves the spotlight. Your left hand rocks the cradle. Your right-hand rules the world. Women of the world, raise your right hand.”

These tag lines dictate that loving a man means losing yourself. De Beers campaign focused on the idea that in order for one’s individuality to be regained, another diamond needs to be purchased for the other hand. The De Beers campaign also included models who are wearing both a wedding ring and a right-handed ring. This is trying to encourage married women that they will be able to physically express to the world that there is more to them than what their married identity would indicate.In addition, the De Beers campaign featured women in their thirties and forties to attempt to manage anxiety associated with the negative connotations of single and taken. The ads target women who may be struggling with the attacking implications of being either longtime single or longtime married, offering them ways to revive their lives by bringing more meanings and identities into play. However, I do not believe that these ads would work in today’s society.

The idea of gender equality and womanhood has progressed throughout the years. Thirty and forty-year-old women now have a different mindset then those back then. Our societal views on women’s roles has changed. Many women are happily married, but still are independent. They can take care of themselves if need be. Women are strong, with or without a man by their side. Internally, we all know it; both men and of course, women. Women do not need to show this stance with a physical ring. In today’s generation, they show it by their actions.

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