Testimony and Peer Pressure

I found this comment on “testimony and peer pressure” on this blog. It rang true to me. The writer is talking about cognitive dissonance. I know this subject has been written about very much by many people but I thought I’d include this excerpt here today. To learn more about cognitive dissonance, many studies have been done in the academic world (it not only pertains to Mormonism, but to all religions, dogmas, political parties, science, anything people can believe in). The excerpt is as follows:

I was thinking today that a Mormon testimony is sort of a weird form of peer pressure. Here you have an entire community, millions strong, who gather weekly to tell each other that they know certain things are true. Those who don’t know wonder what’s wrong with them, and they try desperately to have the same knowledge the others do. I met someone not long ago who said it took her 35 years of prayer, fasting, and study before she had a testimony. Think about that: it took 35 years for her to convince herself of the truth of Mormonism. I suppose if I wanted to believe something that badly, I might be able to do that, too.

When people like Boyd Packer say that a testimony is gained in the bearing of it, you’re toast. You started out with tremendous pressure to have a testimony, and then you were told that you’d get one once you told everyone you had one. So, you get up, nervously, and announce to the world that you know. And everyone says how much they could feel the spirit when you testified, so you feel validated. You have a testimony. That’s how it happened with me, and when I told my bishop my story, he recounted an experience almost exactly like mine. So, maybe a testimony is a social construct more than anything, and not personal or subjective at all.

To learn more about cognitive dissonance, please click the “cognitive dissonance” label on the side of this page to see the on-going collection of material I have on this subject.

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~ by bonoboi on May 2, 2006.

One Response to “Testimony and Peer Pressure”

  1. Thanks for putting together this cognitive dissonance resource. For me, just learning about the term, years ago, was empowering–it let me name, categorize and understand a class of emotional unease and philosophical difficulties.

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