Cognitive Consonance: A state of harmony and internal consistency arising from compatibility among a person’s attitudes, behavior, beliefs, and/or knowledge. Opposite of cognitive dissonance.
It is probably easier to explain the concepts of cognitive consonance and cognitive dissonance with an example. A couple go to watch a football game in the dead of winter. It is freezing, snowing and the wind is blowing. In spite of the inclement weather, the husband who is an avid football fan, is having a great time cheering his team. His wife, who was dragged along and who hates football, is miserable and cold and only wants to go home to a warm fire in the fireplace.
|Pay no attention to the man
behind the curtain
So, here you have two people in the same location, at the same time, having two entirely different views of the exact same event. If you understand this concept, then you are well on your way to understand how certain Americans living in Mexico can wax poetic about the virtues of living there. This is in spite of the overwhelming empirical evidence that Mexico is a third would country with rampant crime and corruption, and an almost non-existent public services and support system.
Here is an example of one person with terminal cognitive consonance. Longlegsinlapaz, a poster who posts on both BajaNomads and TalkBaja, related a recent hospital experience. Now, longlegsinlapaz is one of those America-hating Americans who has lived in Mexico over 10 years. She never misses a chance to rationalize her life by telling anyone who will listen that the Mexican medical system is superior to the US medical system. Even Mexican doctors will not agree with her, but that does not stop her.
Longlegsinlapaz admitted herself to a hospital in La Paz early on a Monday morning with severe abdominal pain. For the next 36-hours, doctors took blood tests, EKG’s and performed ultrasounds on her abdomen. It took the doctors a full 36-hours to diagnose a severely infected small intestine. She was operated on successfully and in her recounting of the experience she wrote:
“Needless to say, I’ll be the first to reinforce my long-felt belief that there is indeed high quality medical care in La Paz! There but for my team of doctors & the prompt & good care I received, this tale could very well have ended up in the Baja Obituaries forum!”
Now for the reality. The preferred method of diagnosing severe abdominal pains in the US is a CT scan. This is an x-ray that produces a three-dimensional picture of the abdomen. The patient is injected with a contrast dye into a vein and then scanned with an x-ray. Not only does a reading of the CT scan rapidly diagnose the problem, but it also pinpoints the precise location, so the surgeon does not have to make a large exploratory incision. It should take no more that two hours to complete a CT scan and diagnose the problem. A speedy diagnosis is of the essence. A ruptured intestine will cause peritonitis, which has a 40% mortality rate in people her age. If the peritonitis was already existing, it has to be treated surgically within a matter of hours.
CT scan equipment are ubiquitous in the US — they are everywhere — even in small towns. But not in Mexico. So, it took 36-hours to diagnose a life-threatening condition that would take a couple of hours in the US, and longlegsinlapaz is ecstatic about the “high quality medical care in La Paz.” Cognitive consonance at its finest.