Cognitive Dissonance In Psychology: Definition and Examples

Cognitive Dissonance In Psychology: Definition and Examples

However, after further thought, we may decide that it does not matter what others think of us and can thus reduce the dissonance. The next step is to identify the cause of inconsistencies in our thoughts. Understanding your beliefs and values behind the inconsistencies is an opportunity to develop Sober House deeper self-knowledge. Cognitive dissonance occurs frequently and to all of us (Harmon-Jones, 2019). Cognitive dissonance leads to the motivation to reduce the dissonance (Festinger, 1957). The stronger the discrepancy between thoughts, the greater the motivation to reduce it (Festinger, 1957).

  • So long as humanity has not managed a cure for viruses all societies will be faced with public health emergencies or pandemics that require mass behavioural modification.
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  • According to Festinger, there are a few ways that a person might resolve this dissonance.
  • Say you’re a student looking to choose between two different universities you’d like to attend.
  • We consider ourselves to be truthful, hard-working, health-conscious, and in control.
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  • This can prompt people to adopt certain defense mechanisms when they have to confront it.
  • The latter, though more challenging, occurs less frequently because we don’t like feeling uncomfortable.
  • Conversely, we may justify or trivialize negative behavior or even end the relationship.

Since they work all day in an office and spend a great deal of time sitting, it is difficult to change their behavior. Cognitive dissonance can be caused by feeling forced to do something, learning new information, or when faced with a decision between two similar choices. When faced with two similar choices, we are often left with feelings of dissonance because both options are equally appealing. She is an immigrant and identifies as a Chinese and Filipina American woman.

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Cognitive dissonance is when we have a gap between what we believe is right and what we are doing. There are also individual differences in whether or not people act as this theory predicts. Many people seem able to cope with considerable dissonance and not experience the tensions the theory predicts.

Adding More Beliefs to Outweigh Dissonant Beliefs

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Self-awareness seems to be a key to understanding how and when cognitive dissonance may play a role in your life. If you find yourself justifying or rationalizing decisions or behaviors that you’re not quite clear you firmly believe in, that might be a sign that cognitive dissonance is at work. If your explanation for something is, “Well, that’s the way I’ve always done it or thought about it,” that may also be a sign. Socrates extolled that “An unexamined life is not worth living.” In other words, challenge and be skeptical of such answers if you find yourself falling back on them. We also don’t like to second-guess our choices, even if later they are proven wrong or unwise.

If patients are provided with the opportunity to co-design aspects of their therapy, they may be more likely to act in line with their choices by reaching their therapeutic goals. Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) conducted one of the first studies examining cognitive dissonance. A good example is the prospect of embarrassing ourselves in front of others, such as by forgetting our words during a speech.

] and if the decision was close then the effects of cognitive dissonance should be greater. A part of that self awareness that may help in dealing with cognitive dissonance is to examine the commitments and decisions we make in our lives. If the resolution of cognitive dissonance means that we move forward with a commitment and spring into action, making us feel better, maybe the dissonance was trying to tell us something.

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He might ease this feeling by telling himself that the health warning is exaggerated or, more productively, by deciding to take action to change his behavior. If a woman reads that her favorite politician has done something immoral, she could conclude that the charges have been invented by his enemies—or, instead, rethink her support. While cognitive dissonance is often described as something widely and regularly experienced, efforts to capture it in studies don’t always work, so it could be less common than has been assumed. People do not necessarily experience discomfort in response to every apparent contradiction in their thoughts and beliefs.

Challenge current beliefs

A smoker, for example, who knows that smoking causes cancer, experiences cognitive dissonance if she continues to smoke. But that is difficult, so most smokers convince themselves that the links between smoking and lung cancer are not quite as strong as doctors claim (modify belief, or avoid the information). In the context of dieting, a person who intends to lose weight has dissonance because of his conflicting strong desires for fattening foods and to lose weight. After an overindulging evening in a special event, he may experience an intense feeling of discomfort (regret and guilt) for his behavior. He may reduce the discomfort by either downplaying the importance of weight loss, or engage in a rigorous exercise the day after.

  • Living with that dissonance probably means you’re fairly stressed out and angry every day.
  • This psychological phenomenon of cognitive dissonance is hard to detect, but for those with addiction, it is important to recognize.
  • In this way, he would be decreasing the importance of dissonant cognition (smoking is bad for one’s health).
  • It is about countering the cognitive processes that led to the formation and perpetuation of the now undesirable behaviours.

This is common with perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, and impossible expectations. Cognitive dissonance can affect our cognitive biases, and vice versa. Typically, when we feel psychological dissonance, it’s because one of these patterns of thought is being challenged. We may develop these biases to avoid discomfort or changing our behavior.

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