Cognitive Dissonance Theory Explained

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

 

Have you ever noticed that once you start something new, it’s easier to be consistent and keep doing it? And the harder it was to start it in the first place, the harder it became to stop doing that thing? This phenomenon of cognitive dissonance can help explain why we continue to do something even when we don’t want to. Cognitive dissonance occurs when someone holds two contradictory ideas simultaneously or one idea that conflicts with their actions or beliefs. The conflicting feelings cause confusion, which leads people to change their thoughts or actions to resolve the dissonance.

What is Cognitive Dissonance Theory?

Definition:


The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe a mental disorder resulting from two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. More personal knowledge, such as self-belief and being held in high esteem, tends to create more dissonance. 

Understanding how dissonance works provide some practical lessons on how to overcome it, starting with examining the two discordant cognitions and separating them. Aronson’s Reconsideration of the idea of ​​dissonance as a discrepancy between a person’s self-esteem and knowledge of their behavior makes it likely that dissonance is nothing more than a mistake. 

The theory also suggests that current actions can influence later beliefs and values ​​- a puzzle that psychologists have noticed when studying cognitive dissonance theorySelf-perception theory assumes that people take a position without having access to their mood and cognition.

They tend to make changes to justify stressful behavior, both by adding new parts to cognition that cause psychological dissonance (rationalization) and by avoiding conflicting circumstances and information that can increase the degree of cognitive dissonance (confirmation bias)

It was 1957 when a young psychologist named Leon Festinger introduced his theory of cognitive dissonance in his book, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Over time, Festinger’s theory has become one of social psychology’s most influential and well-known theories. If you want to understand why people think and act as they do, cognition dissonance can explain why. Understanding how people think and make decisions will help you to better connect with others, resolve conflicts with friends or family members, and even understand how marketers influence your purchase decisions. According to Festinger, people are driven by three basic needs.

Cognitive Dissonance theory suggests that if people act in a way that conflicts with their beliefs, they tend to change their beliefs to match their actions (or vice versa). 

In the original formulation of Festinger’s theory of dissonance, the basic premise is that. 

(a) people will experience psychological distress (i.e., negative affect) when associated cognitions are perceived as conflicting (i.e., discordant);

(b) it will induce people to reduce their feelings of disgust and restore harmony; and 

(c) people will avoid information and situations that might exacerbate this particular dissonance.

Thus, while cognitive dissonance theory removes the internal anxiety we encounter about two opposing beliefs or behaviors, it can also inadvertently reinforce bad decisions in the future. 

The Psychology Behind Cognitive Dissonance Theory

The term cognitive dissonance was first coined by Leon Festinger in 1956 to describe a human being’s mental state when they hold two or more conflicting thoughts, beliefs, ideas, or opinions. In other words, cognitive dissonance occurs when we are forced to reconcile two conflicting viewpoints and try to integrate them into one overall viewpoint. An example of cognitive dissonance might be holding on tight to an old, out-of-fashion purse even though you just got a new one for your birthday that you love. These two items obviously don’t fit well together, but you can’t get rid of either because of emotional attachment.

Among the ways to cope with the situation, a person can choose behavior that is incompatible with his current attitude (belief, ideal, value system) but later try to change this belief to match the behavior. Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person’s cognition does not match the actions taken.

 This causes a feeling of mental discomfort, which leads to a change in one of the attitudes, beliefs, or behavior in order to reduce the discomfort and restore balance. When someone is forced to do (publicly) something that he (privately) does not want to do, there is a dissonance between their knowledge (I did not want to do this) and their behavior (I did).   

For example, when people feel a strong connection with a political party, leader, ideology, or religion, they are more likely to allow loyalty to think for them and distort or ignore evidence that challenges that loyalty. 

The subtle and unpleasant emotions of choice associated with knowledge can hinder knowledge and thinking. Dissonance can be reduced by modifying existing beliefs, adding new ones, or minimizing the importance of beliefs. 

Behavior cannot be changed as it has been in the past, so dissonance will have to be reduced by reevaluating their attitude towards what they did. In order to reconcile inconsistent behaviors with their beliefs, they changed their attitudes towards actions to reduce the dissonance they felt (the report said it was interesting). 

To break it down further, there is any inconsistency between the group that understands $1 (they really don’t want to lie) and their behavior (they actually lie).   

Incorporating cognitive dissonance into models of basic learning processes in order to promote students’ awareness of psychological conflicts between their personal beliefs, ideals, and values ​​and the reality of conflicting facts and information requires students to defend their own beliefs.

Cognitive dissonance theory states that our responses to this type of psychological stimulus tend to fall somewhere in a continuum, in which each point represents a strategy for restoring the cognitive balance of our conscience (Huegler, 2006; Van Overalle & Jordens, 2002).

 When the desired “something” is very important, we can have dissonant cognitions that make us tense and unhappy. In psychology, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person has conflicting beliefs, ideas, or values ​​and usually experiences psychological stress while engaging in an action that conflicts with one or more of them.

A contradiction in a belief, ideal, or value system causes cognitive dissonance, which can be resolved by changing the challenged opinion; however, instead of influencing the change that results, 

mental stress restores the person’s psychological consent through misperception, rejection, or refutation of the contradiction. Seek moral support from people who share conflicting beliefs or act to convince others that a contradiction is not real.

Subsequent research has documented that only conflicting cognitions that threaten a positive self-image cause dissonance. Understanding how dissonance works provide some practical lessons on how to overcome it, starting with examining the two discordant cognitions and separating them. 

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe a mental disorder resulting from two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. When conflicts arise between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people take action to reduce dissonance and discomfort.   

Disharmony can be reduced by modifying existing beliefs, adding new beliefs, or minimizing the importance of beliefs. 

In the way of coping with the situation, a person can choose behaviors that are incompatible with his current attitude (belief, ideals, value system), but then try to change this belief to match the behavior.

Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person’s cognition does not match the action taken.

People who experience the disorder will try to resolve one of the conflicting beliefs, making their thinking linear and rational again. Behavior cannot be changed like in the past, so the imbalance must be reduced by reassessing their attitude towards what they are doing.   

And in order to reconcile inconsistent behavior with their beliefs, they reduced the dissonance they felt by changing their attitude toward action (reporting it was fun). 

Festinger suggested that people feel uncomfortable when they have conflicting beliefs or when their actions are contrary to their beliefs. The term “degree of dissonance” refers to the level of suffering inflicted on a person.   

When someone is forced to do (publicly) something that he (privately) does not want to do, there is a dissonance between their knowledge (I did not want to do this) and their behavior (I did).

 While actions that seem contrary to our beliefs can be uncomfortable and stressful, this is common. Again, we shouldn’t enjoy being in a place where our beliefs, behaviors, or lifestyles do not harmonize, and when we feel unable to deal with this problem, we are more likely to become depressed, anxious, or discouraged.   

Admitting that you are wrong requires some reflection, which involves living with dissonance for a while, and not immediately jumping to self-justification.

 Incorporating cognitive dissonance into models of basic learning processes in order to promote students’ awareness of psychological conflicts between their personal beliefs, ideals, and values ​​and the reality of conflicting facts and information requires students to defend their own beliefs.   

They tend to make changes to prove that the stressful behavior is correct, both by adding new parts to the cognition that cause mental dissonance (rationalization) and by avoiding conflicting environments and information that may increase the degree of cognitive dissonance (confirmation bias). 

They tend to make changes to prove that the stressful behavior is correct, both by adding new parts to the cognition that cause mental dissonance (rationalization) and by avoiding conflicting environments and information that may increase the degree of cognitive dissonance (confirmation bias). 

When a person is within this comfort level, the factors of disharmony will not interfere with their functions. An example of reconciling differences is when a person stops eating meat because they like animals or don’t like killing them.



Example of cognitive dissonance

For example, when people smoke, although they know it is very harmful to them, they experience cognitive dissonance.

If a person smokes while aware of the risks, they may experience cognitive dissonance. For example, if a person smokes, the notion that smoking will cause lung cancer will cause disorders. 

In “Cognitive Dissonance Theory,” Leon Festinger, the psychologist who first described this phenomenon, gave an example of how a person can deal with health-related disorders and discuss those who know that smoking is harmful And people who continue to smoke. For their health. 

If a woman believes that women should be very thin and avoid eating healthy foods, cognitive dissonance can be used to successfully change these beliefs, leading to eating disorders. A study found that DLPFC activity is impaired due to electrode discharge, which reduces the extent to which we try to rationalize beliefs after cognitive dissonance.   

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How to Overcome Cognitive Dissonance

We all have beliefs and ideas that are almost like facts for us—we assume them to be true because of our own experience or because we trust other people who share these beliefs. And most of our lives, these truths don’t cause a problem. For example, you might believe that putting sugar in your coffee makes it taste better, but I know from experience that if I pour too much sugar into my drink, it will be overpowering. Most of us live like one another, and we understand each other pretty well, so when we see someone behaving in a way that doesn’t match our knowledge base, we adjust for that behavior—it simply means they think differently than we do or have had different experiences.

To reduce this dissonance, the smoker must either quit smoking or justify it (“It makes me think, and, you know, being overweight is also a health risk”). A contradiction in a belief, ideal, or value system causes cognitive dissonance, which can be resolved by changing the challenged belief; however, instead of influencing the change that results, mental stress restores the person’s psychological consent through misperception, rejection, or refutation of the contradiction. Seek moral support from people who share conflicting beliefs or act to convince others that a contradiction is not real. 

In other words, instead of addressing the dissonance and discomfort that comes from being truly committed to something and seeing strong evidence against it, committed members have changed their beliefs to be more in line with the evidence. 

If people teach them new information that contradicts what they already know or believe, they usually resist or react. For example, “explain things” or reject new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs. Understanding how discordance works provide some practical experience on how to overcome it. The first thing to do is to examine the two inconsistent perceptions and separate them.   

Aronson’s Reconsideration of the idea of ​​dissonance as a discrepancy between a person’s self-esteem and knowledge of their behavior makes it likely that dissonance is nothing more than a mistake.

Personal knowledge, like knowledge about oneself, seems to cause even more dissonance. 

More personal knowledge, such as self-belief and being held in high esteem, tends to create more dissonance. When conflicts arise between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people take action to reduce dissonance and discomfort. 

 Sometimes people can reduce dissonance by making changes in their environment, especially in their social environment. However, this method of reducing dissonance is often problematic for people, as people often find it difficult to change well-learned behavioral responses (such as quitting smoking).

When there is a mismatch between attitudes or behavior (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.

Among the ways to cope with the situation, a person can choose behavior that is incompatible with his current attitude (belief, ideal, value system) but later try to change this belief to match the behavior. Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person’s cognition does not match the actions taken.    

While it can be extremely difficult to change deeply rooted beliefs, it is one of the most effective ways to deal with dissonance. Finally, changing your conflicting beliefs is one of the most effective ways to deal with dissonance, but also the most difficult. 

Changing conflict cognition is one of the most effective ways to deal with dissonance, but it is also one of the most difficult, especially in the case of deeply rooted values ​​and beliefs such as religious or political leanings.

The correct way to reduce or resolve cognitive dissonance is to change your beliefs or attitudes to avoid the discomfort, pressure, and tension caused by cognitive dissonance.

Of course, cognitive dissonance can cause some people to change their behavior so that their actions are consistent with their beliefs. 

Because of the discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance, people can rationalize their decisions even when they run counter to their beliefs, avoid talking about certain topics, hide their beliefs or actions from others, or even ignore the advice of a doctor.

Examples include “explaining things” or rejecting new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs.

The goal of resolving cognitive dissonance can be achieved by accepting this opposing information and integrating it into our existing beliefs, changing our beliefs, or decreasing the importance of beliefs in our life. Eliminating dissonance can help us avoid making bad decisions or motivate us to make good ones. However, upon further reflection, we may decide that it does not matter what others think of us and, therefore, can reduce dissonance.   

When we exhibit new behaviors (for example, when we refuse to participate in activities we usually participate in to save time), we may feel uncoordinated. 

This may seem inconvenient at first, but it is worth considering the reasons for our behavior. Social psychologist Leon Festinger coined the term in 1957, and his research showed that when there is disharmony, people actually avoid the situations and information that lead to this feeling.   

This discovery has significant implications for news consumers and could lead to a phenomenon known as the echo chamber. Efforts to reduce cognitive dissonance affect the likelihood that a person will engage in behaviors that put them at risk of developing life-threatening diseases, which proves the power and importance of dissonance. Previous reports on reducing disorders have identified several factors that help reduce disorders (for example, the type of cognitive conflict, context, the influence of others, individual differences, personal goals, etc.).

 Sometimes, when patients exhibit new and more constructive behavior, they may perceive dissonance simply because it conflicts with their behavior. Providing space and time to understand their new behavior and the rationale behind it can help reduce dissonance. When conflicts arise between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people take action to reduce dissonance and discomfort.   

Finally, you can also resolve a person’s cognitive dissonance by convincing them that their beliefs are not as important or serious as intended.

However, by asking difficult questions in an order that helps them realize that their beliefs are not really as important as they made them think they were in their heads, you can resolve cognitive dissonance in them. People with such distorted thinking may not even be aware that they have a problem, and if they do, they ignore it.

 To reduce this dissonance, they may seek new information that refutes the notion that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming. People resolve the dissonance by finding additional information to support what they want to believe, rather than trying to argue it otherwise, which ultimately only confirms the bias,” says Gallagher.

    

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