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On the other hand there is the law or the rules that society sets down and punishes those that disobey those laws or rules. While in the past few have disputed that the threat of punishment tends to lower the likelihood of people committing crimes, performing antisocial activities, and being aggressive this is largely an untested theory.
However, since the time science first started looking at the effects of punishment scientists have not been able to find much evidence that this theory is correct.
The main reason many people believe in the virtues of punishment is easily explained by Festinger's concept of cognitive dissonance.
While common sense would lead us to believe that if we suffer we would understand this as a completely bad thing that has happened to us, cognitive dissonance tells us otherwise.
Cognitive dissonance, among other things, is the social process whereby people rationalize the choices they make into the belief that those choices were the best choices.
Even choices that were made for them, in this way, become a belief that those choices were best.
Society has two mechanisms for dealing with anti social or aggressive behavior.
Sad though it is, as commonly established, the child reared in a violent dysfunctional family seems to be most prone to become violent or exhibit dysfunctional behavior in their own lives.[The ordeal is dissonant with our desire not to experience the ordeal, and 'cognitive dissonance theory' tells us that holding two such cognitions, that are inconsistent, causes us to experience a great deal of unpleasantness.It tells us this unpleasantness must be somehow reduced, and that the easiest way to do this is to change what we believe.] ..the perspective of cognitive dissonance theory, enduring punishing activities...should increase the positivity of our attitudes toward the activity for which we suffered." There are two ways we can change our beliefs in this situation.Indeed it has been shown that punishment and especially severe punishment is counterproductive and can increase antisocial and aggressive behaviors.
Elliot Aronson in his book "The Social Animal" presents the current state of consensus among social scientists concerning punishment:"To the average citizen, an obvious way of reducing aggression is to punish it.What we did can go from being a little attractive to us to being something we can hardly live without.