1. Do you see instances of cognitive dissonance in this case study? Explain.
2. Why do you think the two prosecutors and the police officer found it difficult to accept the new evidence regarding Reyes’ guilt?
3. Why do you think Donald Trump finds it difficult to accept the new evidence regarding Reyes’ guilt?
4. Sears and colleagues suggest that the following factors can render cognitive dissonance especially acute. Were any of them at play in the Central Park 5 case?
• Irrevocable commitment—the stronger one is committed to a position, the more intense will be the dissonance stemming from evidence indicating that the position is wrong.
• Foreseeable consequences—the more easily foreseen the consequences of taking an erroneous position, the more acute will be the dissonance when evidence starts to arise that the position is wrong.
• Responsibility for consequences—the more someone feels personally responsible for the erroneous position take, the more acute he or she will feel the dissonance when evidence starts to arise that the position is wrong
• Effort—the more effort someone has put into taking the erroneous position, the more wedded he or she will be to it and the more they will resist new, inconsistent evidence.
5. Do you find it difficult to accept evidence indicating that a position you have publicly maintained in the past is wrong?
6. The Central Park 5 had been released from jail by the time Reyes confessed. If they had still been in jail, and prosecutors and police resisted their release despite Reyes’ confession and the supporting evidence, would that have been an unethical act on their part?
7. What factors discussed in other Ethics Unwrapped videos might have contributed to a “rush to judgment” by police and prosecutors in 1989?