What is Cognitive Dissonance and How Do You Reduce it?

For their part, Gosling et al. (2006) used the Elliot and Devine’s scale but relied on negative-self oriented affect to assess dissonance instead of their dissonance specific index. While these different views co-exist in the literature, there has not been a clear debate yet on the nature and the specificity of the CDS. Altogether, according to the diversity of specific emotion studied, focusing on one specific affect or on a cocktail of affects to capture the nature of CDS seems inappropriate. In our opinion, developing an instrument assessing a specific affect, such as the CDS, requires understanding the precise nature and characteristics of this affect. However, the characteristics of the CDS are not well-understood today, aside from a general consensus that it should involve a form of negative arousal.

cognitive dissonance

Moreover, in the present state of conceptualization, assessing the inconsistency may also be the most relevant way to assess the “dissonance” construct. Given the number of possible regulation strategies, assessing only one of them limits the conclusion that can be drawn. For instance, the absence of use of a single strategy does not suggest that no regulation has occurred through others, even more as we know very little about what influence the choice of a strategy (Weick, 1965; McGrath, 2017; Vaidis and Bran, 2018). Hence, a serious assessment of regulation strategies that avoid false negatives would have to include all possibilities. Because it is difficult to predict which strategy will be used, it seems unreliable to postulate the existence of CDS and its magnitude on the sole basis of the use of a regulation strategy. It was hypothesized that participants in the Counter-attitudinal condition would experience less Pleasure and more Arousal than participants in the Pro-attitudinal condition.

Cognitive dissonance

Yet some investors can be observed to make this kind of irrational decision. The study argued based on survey evidence that an individual trader’s future decision-making may be influenced by his previous investment decisions. As such, his future decisions, which may be contrary to his investing beliefs, are taken to reaffirm the amount of time and money he has invested in his previous ones. One solution to this truth problem would be to try to make sense of what happened by establishing some new reality. This solution would involve creating new truths that are consistent with their previous beliefs and actions. New judgments about the present and predictions about the future were made that were consistent with the original belief, with the disconfirming event being treated like a bump in the road.

Many commonly cited examples of cognitive dissonance are of when we justify or rationalize negative choices or mistakes. But sometimes cognitive dissonance can help us establish positive behaviors or changes that our personality or previous habits would otherwise inhibit us from making. A 2016 analysis of two studies by researchers Michael Ent and Mary Gerend details our reluctance to undergo beneficial medical screenings. In one of the studies, participants were told about an unpleasant test for a virus.

Individual effects

Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and behavior in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance). Mismatches between your beliefs and actions can lead to feelings of discomfort (and, sometimes, coping choices that have negative impacts), but such feelings can also sometimes lead to change and growth. Because people want to avoid discomfort, cognitive dissonance can have a wide range of effects. Dissonance can play a role in how we act, think, and make decisions. We may engage in behaviors or adopt attitudes to help relieve the discomfort caused by the conflict. Perhaps due to these psychometric issues, the Dissonance Thermometer is also not used in a standardized way.

  • Theoretically, dissonance may contribute to a variety of changes in behavior or beliefs.
  • This underlying tension then motivates an individual to make an attitude change that would produce consistency between thoughts and behaviors.
  • People attempt to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information.

Since they can’t escape the action, they attempt to re-establish their reasons for doing it in a way that makes the action acceptable. We consider ourselves to be truthful, hard-working, health-conscious, and in control. But our actions don’t always line up with what we think of ourselves. The definition of cognitive dissonance, plus how it affects your relationships, advertising and other communications, and your day-to-day life. Think of an executive who is convinced that the product they are launching will succeed, and to avoid the painful realization that it may not, refuses to acknowledge the cries of his engineering team who claim that the product will malfunction.

Meaning of cognitive dissonance in English

For the MMM, expectancy violation, mortality salience, or exposure to inconsistency all follow a common phenomenon of meaning violation that triggers the same neurocognitive and psychophysiological systems (see Jonas et al., 2014) and that motivates compensatory behaviors. This means that whatever https://ecosoberhouse.com/ the induction and the specific setting of the theory, the general process could be the same. Recent data (Randles et al., 2015) support that CDT is similar to many other meaning violations and such suggestions are real opportunities to gain a deeper comprehension of human functioning.

cognitive dissonance

Study participants who complete an uninteresting task have been found to rate the task as more enjoyable if they were first asked to tell someone else it was enjoyable—an effect attributed to cognitive dissonance. Theoretically, dissonance may contribute to a variety of changes in behavior or beliefs. Sometimes, the ways that people resolve cognitive dissonance contribute to unhealthy behaviors or poor decisions. Cognitive dissonance theory might suggest that since votes are an expression of preference or beliefs, even the act of voting might cause someone to defend the actions of the candidate for whom they voted,[72][self-published source?

The Why and How of Defending Belief in a Just World

Consensual social validation and identification was also often viewed as playing an important role in the maintenance of self-esteem through others, for example, basking in reflected glory (Cialdini et al., 1976), or being part of a winning team (Sherman & Kim, 2005). Cognitive dissonance can happen to anyone, and most cases resolve on their own. However, there are therapy options for people whose cognitive dissonance is severely affecting their relationships or the ability to live their lives. But sometimes, we have feelings of dissonance and we don’t understand — or can’t trace — where they came from. In cases like these or for more complex changes, you’ll benefit from additional accountability and support. Your brain will attempt to resolve cognitive dissonance on its own — but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any say over the process.

  • In addition, these studies are strongly socially contextualized and thus may have different impacts depending on place, culture, and temporality.
  • 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.
  • Participants in the high-dissonance condition spread apart the alternatives significantly more than the participants in the other two conditions.
  • It follows that music likely performs a fundamental cognitive function; music makes possible the accumulation of knowledge and thereby stimulates human evolution.

Cognitive dissonance is a normal occurrence that can affect anyone. Though, the severity may vary depending on how tightly the belief is held. Values surrounding racism, sexism and religion can commonly cause tension when you discover new information that opposes how you feel, says Dr. Scott. Social psychologists have uncovered dozens of cognitive biases, such as self-serving bias, unconscious bias or implicit bias, confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, and the sunk-cost fallacy. Cognitive bias is the tendency to process information in the light of our own experiences.

This produces a feeling of mental discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance. To deal with the feelings of discomfort then, they might find some way of rationalizing treatment for cognitive dissonance the conflicting cognition. For instance, they may justify their sedentary behavior by saying that their other healthy behaviors—like eating sensibly and occasionally exercising—make up for their largely sedentary lifestyle.

  • For instance, the hypocrisy paradigm (Aronson, 1992; Stone and Fernandez, 2008; Priolo et al., 2019) compares inconsistent conditions to neutral or consistent ones.
  • The arrows indicate the level of pre-trial expectation in the information condition.

Once a choice has been made, however, people need to find a way to reduce these feelings of discomfort. We accomplish this by justifying why our choice was the best option so we can believe that we made the right decision. Anyone can experience cognitive dissonance, and sometimes, it is unavoidable. People are not always able to behave in a way that matches their beliefs.