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GRE Reading Comprehension Practice Question of the Week #22

This week’s question is a standard Reading Comprehension problem: Choose the option that best answers the question. Good luck, we’ll be posting the answer tomorrow!

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The social psychology concept of cognitive dissonance explains many of people’s otherwise inexplicable attitudes and actions. According to this theory, people often unconsciously alter their perceptions and evaluations of “reality” to protect their preconceptions or to adjust to changing circumstances. For example, someone who believes that men have more financial aptitude than women is likely to spot more errors on a balance sheet if told it was prepared by a woman than if told it was prepared by a man. And someone worried about the dangers of radiation from a proposed nuclear power plant to be built in his community may actually become less concerned if the plant is built and he is unable to move from the area.

Which of the following would be the best example with which to continue the passage?

  1. Someone who had opposed school integration may come to accept or even favor it after her child is forced to attend an integrated school.
  2. A traveling salesperson who is terrified of flying may continue to subject himself to this frightening experience if his job demands it.
  3. A brother and sister who dislike each other may disguise their feelings around their parents to avoid being punished.
  4. Folk wisdom about sour grapes and the grass being greener on the other side of the fence provides a commonsense corollary to this theory.
  5. Although some prisoners who tell their parole boards that they have recognized the error of their ways may be lying to gain an early release, others may have genuinely accepted their punishment and its implications.
Update: Here’s the answer/explanation post!

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