Make Me a Hypocrite? No way!; A Potential Bullying Panacea for an Internal Communications Initiative

No More Bullying!

I recently wrote an internal communications strategic campaign to address nurse bullying behaviors and attitudes in the workplace. A favorite design feature I proposed for the campaign involved Counterattitudinal Advocacy and Pro-attitudinal Advocacy in order to induce hypocrisy among bullying nurses.

Below is an excerpt from the proposal. Let me contextualize this a bit by explaining that the nurses all will be asked to sign a petition against bullying in the workplace, creating a commitment from the beginning (Aronson, Fried, & Stone, 1991; Cialdini, 2009).

Counterattitudinal Advocacy (CAA) and Pro-attitudinal Advocacy

Cognitive dissonance theory (CDT) is a consistency theory that explains how people go about rationalizing their decisions after making them or behaviors after doing them (Gass & Seiter, 2016). A key concept of the cognitive dissonance theory is counterattitudinal advocacy (CAA), which involves having a person argue for a position, attitude, or belief that is at odds with, or counter to, his or her current position, attitude, or belief (Gass & Seiter, 2016; Stiff & Mongeau, 2003). CAA, along with a modified version of CAA called pro-attitudinal advocacy, will be an important design feature for this campaign (Aronson et al., 1991).

To help accomplish this, the bullying nurses who sign a petition against bullying will be asked to voluntarily role-play, i.e., to voluntarily act, as bullying nurses in the training modules and videos to be used in the anti-bullying campaign. Pro-attitudinal advocacy induces feelings of hypocrisy, also a form of cognitive dissonance, to accomplish the desired new behavior in subjects when the current behavior has not been consistent with the desired behavior (Aronson et al., 1991). Having the nurses who both bully and sign an anti-bullying petition portray bullying nurses in the anti-bullying training modules and videos should induce feelings of hypocrisy in the bullying nurses. The motivating influence of the cognitive dissonance theory predicts that nurses will change their bullying behavior in order to reduce their uncomfortable state of inconsistency, which should accomplish the desired behavior because the current behavior is inconsistent with the desired behavior. Such “self persuasion” is powerful and “relatively permanent” (Aronson et al., 1991, p. 1636). Thus, nurse bullying in the workplace should decrease and/or cease altogether.

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