Cognitive Dissonance: Everything You Need to Know

The discomfort experienced when two or more forms of cognition conflict are known as cognitive dissonance. Ideas, opinions, or the knowledge that one has acted in a specific manner may all be included in the list of conflicting cognitions.

The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance

According to the cognitive dissonance hypothesis, individuals dislike mental contradictions of their own. It explains why individuals sometimes try to change their thinking when their ideas, words, or actions seem to conflict.

One may feel compelled to find a means to overcome the bad emotion that results—to restore cognitive consonance—when new information is discovered that contradicts a strongly held belief, for example, or when one behaves in a manner that seems to undermine a positive self-image. While a person may not always be able to overcome cognitive dissonance, there are a variety of strategies to deal with it, from ignoring the cause to altering one’s views or conduct.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance may occur when someone speaks a falsehood and then feels awkward about it because, at his core, he believes himself to be honest. The conflict between one idea (in this example, realizing he has done something wrong) and another causes mental discord (thinking that he is honest).

Who created the concept of cognitive dissonance?

A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance was written by psychologist Leon Festinger and published in 1957. To support his argument, he utilized members of doomsday cults and their justifications for why the world had not ended as they had predicted. Since then, several studies have been carried out to demonstrate cognitive dissonance in more commonplace settings.

Is cognitive dissonance the same as hypocrisy?

No. A person who contradicts their actual selves or behaviors with their professed values, beliefs, or character is said to be hypocritical. When someone holds particular views yet thinks or behaves in a manner that is inconsistent with them, cognitive dissonance, an uncomfortable mental state that may arise, may occur.

How common is cognitive dissonance?

It is unclear. Although cognitive dissonance is often reported as a widespread and frequent feeling, attempts to measure it in research don’t always succeed, suggesting that it may be less widespread than previously thought. Every apparent inconsistency in a person’s ideas and thinking may not always make them uncomfortable.

How We Deal With Cognitive Dissonance

The difficulty presented by cognitive dissonance is dealing with the uneasy sensation that develops when our ideas or behaviors conflict. Some replies may be more helpful than others.

When a guy finds that his eating habits increase his risk of sickness, he feels conflicted between wanting to behave in a certain way and being aware that he could be in danger. By convincing oneself that the health warning is overstated or, more effectively, by deciding to modify his behavior, he may be able to alleviate this emotion. If a woman learns that her favorite politician has committed an unethical act, she may assume the accusations are untrue or decide to reconsider her support.

What are some effects of cognitive dissonance?

It could cause us to adopt more consistent perspectives. Cognitive dissonance is thought to be why study participants who finish a boring activity assess it more favorably if they first have to tell someone else how much they enjoyed it. Theoretically, dissonance might be a factor in several behavioral or philosophical shifts.

How do you avoid cognitive dissonance?

When cognitions don’t appear to fit together, individuals should use various strategies to overcome their experience of dissonance. They could include suppressing or compartmentalizing undesirable ideas, attempting to rationalize a notion that is incongruent with others or altering one’s beliefs or conduct.

Is cognitive dissonance a bad thing?

No, not always. Cognitive dissonance may provide a chance for development by highlighting the contradictions in our thoughts. People who experience it could come to understand, for instance, that they need to adjust their conduct to represent better the kind of person they want to be or update their views to reflect reality.

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