Publication Date

Spring 4-2023


School of Communication


Communication Studies: Speech Communication


cognitive dissonance theory, racism, Hidden Figures, interpersonal relationships, sexism


African American Studies | Film and Media Studies | Rhetoric and Composition


In utilizing cognitive dissonance theory (CDT) as postulated by Festinger (1957), this research sought to identify how European American (EA) superiors Paul Stafford and Vivian Mitchell were influenced by EA coworkers while interacting with African American (AA) subordinates Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, respectively, within the film Hidden Figures. Based upon a thorough review of the literature on CDT and its relationships with racism and sexism, this research examined specific scenes in which the pair interacted individually and around coworkers before determining the impact of external interpersonal relationships upon the central biracial relationships. Conclusions demonstrated the key principle of dissonance resolution, as proposed by Festinger, in relation to multiracial working relationships.