Cognitive Dissonance In Psychology: Definition and Examples

You may experience cognitive dissonance in any aspect of your life, including your health, spending habits, political beliefs, or religious beliefs. Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person’s behavior and beliefs do not complement each other or when they hold two contradictory beliefs. It causes a feeling of discomfort that motivates people to try to feel better. Alternatively, people may take steps to try to resolve the inconsistency. It is possible to resolve cognitive dissonance by either changing one’s behavior or changing one’s beliefs so they are consistent with each other.

  • It is a mechanism that alerts us when we are not acting in line with our beliefs, attitudes, or plans.
  • Thus, this approach may contribute to the empirical study of dissonance research.
  • You might decide that your choice is OK in comparison to your beliefs or you might minimize the negative aspects of your decision to feel better.
  • Have you ever felt a sense of tension in your mind, but you weren’t sure why or what was causing it?
  • Many experiments have since been conducted to illustrate cognitive dissonance in more ordinary contexts.

When someone tells a lie and feels uncomfortable about it because he fundamentally sees himself as an honest person, he may be experiencing cognitive dissonance. That is, there is mental discord related to a contradiction between one thought (in this case, knowing he did something wrong) and another (thinking that he is honest). Understanding our mechanisms with which we reduce dissonance and recognizing when it occurs are key to making informed and constructive decisions. Self-awareness and mindfulness practice empower us to notice inconsistencies in our thinking and find the space between dissonance triggers and our reaction so we can choose a response we are truly happy with. This episode of the podcast Behavioral Grooves features an interview with Dr. Kathleen Vohs on cognitive dissonance theory.

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When they act inconsistently with their attitude, we feel the same discomfort as if we had acted inconsistently with our attitude ourselves (Cooper, 2016). However, while that may be true, evidence-based scientific research has shown that this disease plays mind games, controlling all aspects of a person’s life, mentally, physically, and socially. For someone with addiction issues, when dissonance comes into play, it greatly compromises their ability to make rational decisions. One could argue that drinking and taking drugs is ultimately someone’s choice. Although, when something they once believed turns out too good to be true, it conflicts with their pre-existing beliefs about their decision-making abilities.

cognitive dissonance treatment

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by Håkan Fischer, Department of Psychology at Stockholm University. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study. This article discusses the signs of cognitive dissonance along with how to cope with it. Set healthy boundaries from the beginning and reinstate them if someone crosses a line. By being assertive about your values, you can minimize continued conflict from the start but also empower yourself to hold that space for your needs.

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These feelings may even lead you to hide your actions or decisions from others or to feel like you are a hypocrite. Although there has been a very large emphasis on the attitude-change effect, and predominantly within the induced-compliance paradigm (see e.g., Devine et al., 1999; Harmon-Jones et al., 2009 for a similar concern), the role of other reduction strategies has also received some attention. Hence, there are several different notions on how the dissonance-reduction process might work, but no account has yet managed to encapsulate the widespread findings in the literature (see also McGrath, 2017; Vaidis and Bran, 2018, on this point).

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Health, Live Science, and Discover Magazine, among other publications. She holds a master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a bachelor’s degree in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. She has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in mental health and women’s health.

Criticism of the free-choice paradigm

And to reduce their mental discomfort they will avoid small spaces like elevators which confirms the apparent validity of their fearful attitude which keeps them clinging to the irrational fear. If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, you can reduce your uncomfortable feelings by changing your existing beliefs, adding new beliefs, or changing your behaviors. While changing your beliefs or your behaviors is an effective way of dealing with uncomfortable feelings related to cognitive dissonance, this approach is not always a linear process.

  • They might join a support group, read books on addiction, and get rid of their cigarettes.
  • Applying a broader emotional perspective, we will incorporate many of the previous, seemingly disconnected, accounts of dissonance reduction into a general model (see Figure 1).
  • Facing truths or changing an unhealthy habit might be uncomfortable, but resolving this discomfort can create positive changes.

They found that people who were extraverted were less likely to feel the negative impact of cognitive dissonance and were also less likely to change their mind. Introverts, on the other hand, experienced increased dissonance discomfort and were more likely to change their attitude to match the majority of others in the experiment. Another challenging issue is the categorization of reduction strategies, which has also been a notoriously difficult task in the coping literature (Skinner cognitive dissonance treatment et al., 2003). The empirical data clearly shows that, for instance, many individuals used attitude change and trivialization (see Webb et al., 2012, on the simultaneous use of different emotion-regulation strategies). A possible explanation is perhaps that trivialization coupled with attitude change is qualitatively different from trivialization alone. This type of trivialization might actually assist the attitude-change process in a rather complex cognitive reappraisal procedure.