Dissonance and self-reflections: Decentering assumptions to foster learners’ cognitive flexibility




Section: Regular Articles


  • Isabelle Drewelow Email ORCiD University of Alabama, USA
DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/ice.v6n3.1031


The process of developing intercultural competence requires students to decenter from their existing frames of interpretation. Dissonance creates opportunities to question assumptions by challenging the primacy of perspectives, fostering skills to grapple with new knowledge and the ability to think more dialectically about the world. The present study examines how reflecting on dissonance engages skills and dispositions that support the development of cognitive flexibility, the ability to switch between emic and etic perspectives. In an advanced French course focused on marketing and communication, embodiments of economic patriotism in advertising and marketing practices in France aimed to disrupt and destabilize assumptions about the impact and role of globalization on local product consumption and consumer behavior. The analysis of students’ self-reflections collected in two sections of the course shows that dissonance acted as a sensitizing device, signaling to students the limits of their own perspectives. The juxtaposition of multiple perspectives through the angle of marketing prompted reinterpretation, questioning, and awareness of the subjectivities of interpretation, fostering dialectical thinking skills. Imagination, interest, and curiosity were key in sustaining the decentering process and developing a readiness for cognitive flexibility.

Keywords: Intercultural competence, Decentering, dissonance and learning, French

Suggested Citation:

Drewelow, I. (2023). Dissonance and self-reflections: Decentering assumptions to foster learners’ cognitive flexibility. Intercultural Communication Education, 6(3), 78–91. https://doi.org/10.29140/ice.v6n3.1031