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Cognitive Dissonance: Theory, Examples & How to Reduce It

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

It occurs in all of us frequently, not just when planning to diet and justifying a doughnut with a delayed diet start. The Positive Psychology Toolkit© is a groundbreaking practitioner resource containing over 500 science-based exercises, activities, interventions, questionnaires, and assessments created by experts using the latest positive psychology research. This offers opportunities to discuss the discrepancies, cognitive dissonance and addiction deepen the relationship, and re-align values. Conversely, we may justify or trivialize negative behavior or even end the relationship. Cognitive dissonance and the way we cope with it regularly affect our relationships, too, both positively and negatively. Patients are likely to feel uncomfortable when dissonant thoughts are discussed, which can impede their ability to think constructively.

  • In response to the limitations of the theory, three revisions of cognitive dissonance theory have been proposed.
  • Avoiding, delegitimizing, and limiting the impact of cognitive dissonance may result in a person not acknowledging their behavior and thus not taking steps to resolve the dissonance.
  • The third group, the control group, was not asked to speak with the confederate.

Dissociating meat from its animal origins: A systematic literature review

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

The stronger the discrepancy between thoughts, the greater the motivation to reduce it (Festinger, 1957). 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. When one of the dissonant elements is a behavior, the individual can change or eliminate the behavior. When the participants were asked to evaluate the experiment, the participants who were paid only $1 rated the tedious task as more fun and enjoyable than the participants who were paid $20 to lie.

Consider the importance of dissonant thoughts

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to find new pathways to reduce suffering and more effectively cope with life stressors. A good example is the prospect of embarrassing ourselves in front of others, such as by forgetting our words during a speech. However, after further thought, we may decide that it does not matter what others think of us and can thus reduce the dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs frequently and to all of us (Harmon-Jones, 2019). In other words, he could tell himself that a short life filled with smoking and sensual pleasures is better than a long life devoid of such joys.

Changing Behavior

  • This is probably because dissonance would be caused if we spent a great effort to achieve something and then evaluated it negatively.
  • The theory of cognitive dissonance has been widely researched in a number of situations to develop the basic idea in more detail, and various factors have been identified which may be important in attitude change.
  • Dissonance-based interventions (DBIs) were developed based on Festinger’s well-known cognitive dissonance theory.
  • By convincing themselves that the group was wonderful, the students were able to reduce the dissonance that had been aroused by their volunteering to engage in a difficult, embarrassing screening.
  • The other half of the children were told there would only be a mild consequence for playing with the forbidden toy.

Hence, the theory received good attention from scholars in its early days, due to its few fundamental and uncomplicated principles, which could make novel and non-obvious predictions. We like to think of ourselves as psychologically consistent human beings—that we act in ways that are consistent with our attitudes and that our attitudes are typically consistent with each other. We like to think that we make good choices and act in our own best interests. The choices we make often lead us to dilemmas in which we need to relinquish some aspects of a rejected alternative that we would really like or to accept aspects of our chosen alternative that we would rather not have to accept. Sometimes, we find ourselves engaged in effortful activities that make little sense or find that we have to say or do things that do not quite fit with our private attitudes.

The other half of the children were told there would only be a mild consequence for playing with the forbidden toy. Later, when the children were told that they could freely play with any toy they wanted, the children in the mild-punishment group were less likely to play with the steam shovel (the forbidden toy), even though they knew that they would no longer receive a punishment. With dissonance that results from wanting something we can’t have, there are things we would like to have that we cannot for any number of reasons. When the desired “something” is very important, we may have dissonant cognitions that make us tense and unhappy.

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

1 Dissociation as a mean to prevent and reduce cognitive dissonance

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

Third, the person could increase the amount of consonant cognition by looking for positive effects of smoking. Lastly, the person could focus on the benefits of smoking as an important part of his or her life (Mills & Harmon-Jones, 1999). Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) is often considered to be one of the most influential theories in social psychology. According to the theory, inconsistency between attitude and behavior produces an unpleasant emotional state called ‘cognitive dissonance,’ and people try to reduce this undesired state by changing their attitudes. For example, after students wrote a favorable essay about a tuition increase, their attitudes toward the tuition increase tended to become more positive (Steele, Southwick, & Critchlow, 1981).

In other words, it seems that everyone does experience dissonance from time to time—but what causes dissonance for one person might not for someone else. According to psychologists, our actions are likely to produce a higher amount of dissonance if they involve the way that we see ourselves and we subsequently have trouble justifying why our actions didn’t match our beliefs. Disposing of trash outside, even when knowing this is against the law, wrong, and is harmful for the environment, is a prominent example of cognitive dissonance, especially if the person feels bad after littering but continues to do so.

  • Additionally, self-actualized individuals intensely appreciate simple or natural events, such as a sunrise, and they sometimes experience profound changes that Maslow termed peak experiences.
  • If John keeps thinking about how miserable he is, it is going to be a very long four years.
  • A person who cares about their health might be disturbed to learn that sitting for long periods during the day is linked to a shortened lifespan.

Cognitive dissonance theory proposes that situations involving conflicting behaviors, beliefs or attitudes produce a state of mental discomfort (Festinger, 1957). Two cognitions are said to stand in a dissonant or conflictual relationship when one psychologically does not fit the other, as is the case when a person eats meat yet does not want to harm animals. Moreover, it has been argued that one qualifying condition https://ecosoberhouse.com/ for dissonance to emerge is that individuals feel responsible for their actions (Cooper & Fazio, 1984). Cognitive dissonance theory further centers on the idea that people strive for consistency between their cognitions, and that they apply a variety of methods to achieve it. Consistency between cognitions and actions is most common, but it is easy to find examples of inconsistent cognitions (Festinger, 1957).

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