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Can Pain And Discomfort Make You Like A Group?

Actually, Yes.

People who (voluntarily) undergo a great deal of pain, discomfort, or effort to get something will be happier with that something than if it came to them easily. In this case, the cognitive dissonance results from the underlying belief that I am a sensible, competent, person clashing with the fact you underwent a painful or otherwise unpleasant experience to achieve something that was worthless. Thus, your mind searches for anything positive while ignoring anything negative. Bottom line: when we voluntarily go through a difficult experience in the pursuit of a goal or object, that object becomes more attractive.

An experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that persons who undergo an unpleasant initiation to become members of a group increase their liking for the group; that is, they find the group more attractive than do persons who become members without going through a severe initiation. This hypothesis was derived from Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance.” 3 conditions were employed: reading of “embarrassing material” before a group, mildly embarrassing material to be read, no reading. “The results clearly verified the hypothesis.”

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Source: The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. Aronson, Elliot; Mills, Judson. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. Vol 59(2), Sep 1959, 177-181. (PDF)