Cognitive Dissonance Theory an overview

Alternatively, they may reduce cognitive dissonance by being mindful of their values and pursuing opportunities to live those values. 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. Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds two related but contradictory cognitions, or thoughts. American psychologist Leon Festinger first developed the concept in the 1950s. It can occur when a person holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time.

  • Investigating strategies for reduction has historically been the overwhelming focus of CDT research.
  • This solution would involve creating new truths that are consistent with their previous beliefs and actions.
  • Before they went on stage, they were told to think of a time when they didn’t exhibit that behavior.
  • He then will feel better and not experience cognitive dissonance, which is an uncomfortable state.
  • 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.

First, strategies that are less effortful or more available will be pursued more than those that are more effortful or less available. Therefore, Hafer and Gosse (2010) suggest that some situational characteristics likely influence the degree to which specific BJW-defense strategies are pursued by affecting perceived effortfulness or availability of strategies. For example, situations can contain cues that a victim is to blame for his or her situation (e.g., Haynes & Olson, 2006). In such a case, blaming the victim requires only moderate cognitive effort and therefore might be employed to a greater extent than other, more effortful ways of maintaining BJW.

Social behavior

Attending specialized therapy sessions such as psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals who struggle with cognitive dissonance work through emotional difficulties and disruptive or negative thoughts. Your psychologist or licensed professional counselor can help you understand your thought process, identify where the feelings are coming from, as well as find ways to change your bias, reduce conflicting beliefs or add new ones. Not everyone practices what they preach—and that could trigger poor mental health. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict a person experiences when they hold simultaneous conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.

What are the 3 causes of cognitive dissonance?

Causes of cognitive dissonance can include being forced to comply with something against their beliefs, having to decide between different choices, and having to put effort into the goal.

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. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘treatment for cognitive dissonance.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Add cognitive dissonance to one of your lists below, or create a new one. Because the CDS is the core motive of the model and could vary depending on the induction situation, we must get closer to standardized instruments. The prevalence of a unique tool should permit comparison and reliable expected effects (i.e., size and quality).

The definition of cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias might therefore play a role, as we are more inclined to rationalize our existing beliefs than have them challenged by legitimate news sources. This article looks at how artificial intelligence helps us make decisions or makes decisions for us. In support, the author claims that individuals’ cognitive dissonance can influence the probabilistic models used to make policy decisions. There are a variety of ways people are thought to resolve the sense of dissonance when cognitions don’t seem to fit together. They may include denying or compartmentalizing unwelcome thoughts, seeking to explain away a thought that doesn’t comport with others, or changing what one believes or one’s behavior. 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.

In some cases the signal accurately cued the taste solution being presented, but in other cases the cue was misleading, e.g. a signal for a bitter solution was given, but a sweet solution was presented. Their results showed that sweet solutions that disconfirmed a taste expectation were rated less intense than sweet solutions that confirmed a taste expectancy. However, bitter solutions that disconfirmed an expectation were rated more intense. In both cases, disconfirmed expectations resulted in a more negative experience (less sweet or more bitter).


“Any person would want to be able to say, ‘I have a belief system, and I govern myself accordingly,’” she says. To resolve the inconsistency revealed by this new information on certain animal products, John rejects and rationalizes the speech so that his identity as an environmentalist isn’t painfully compromised. Hypocrisy involves a contradiction between a person’s supposed principles, beliefs, or character and who they really are or how they behave. Cognitive dissonance is the unpleasant mental state that may result if someone really does have certain beliefs but thinks or acts in a way that contradicts them. Female participants were informed they would be helping out in a study funded by several manufacturers.

cognitive dissonance

Though a person may not always resolve cognitive dissonance, the response to it may range from ignoring the source of it to changing one’s beliefs or behavior to eliminate the conflict. Some of the ways people reduce discomfort from cognitive dissonance include seeking information that aligns with and supports current beliefs, reducing the conflicting belief’s importance, and changing beliefs to reduce the feelings of conflict. When there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, and opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort. At the determined place and time, the cult assembled to await their rescue.

Being paid $20 provides a reason for turning pegs, and there is, therefore, no dissonance. In their laboratory experiment, they used 71 male students as participants to perform a series of dull tasks (such as turning pegs in a peg board for an hour). By Kendra Cherry, MSEd

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.”

Can cognitive dissonance lead to depression?

Moreover, if we chronically feel high levels of dissonance, we are at risk for anxiety and depression disorders.

The arrows indicate the level of pre-trial expectation in the information condition. Second, Hafer and Gosse (2010) suggest that some situational variables affect the degree to which different BJW-defense strategies are employed because these variables influence the perceived effectiveness of the coping mechanisms. For example, people might be more willing to help an innocent victim who represents an isolated case rather than one of many such cases, perhaps because help in the latter situation is viewed as less effective at alleviating injustice (Miller, 1977; see also Kogut, 2011). Similarly, people might be more likely to help if aid is not so personally costly as to make them victims of injustice in the process (see Holmes, Miller, & Lerner, 2002). This emphasis on cognitive clarity, positive self-evaluation, and superior in-group identification as a support for both is shared by prominent theories of defensive motivation that focus on consensual groups.

This reduces your guilt and helps you bridge the gap between your love of animals and your diet. Every time you see the membership tag on your keychain, it reminds you of that pesky truth — that exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. You tell yourself it’s OK since you’re taking care of your health in other ways.

It also requires taking into account the time course, as it is supposed to be relevant. Finally, a last and complementary perspective relies on physiological proxies. Not so distinct from measurement of subjective intensity, its main interest is that this can be done in parallel to the previous approaches to provide convergent validity. Finally, the development of an efficient tool to assess the CDS should probably rely on multiple measures. In this context, does CDT needs to worry about its future and could it be reclassified from major league to classic-but-wrong-theory? Until now, replication projects have not yet focused on CDT and have spared this theory.

By using these types of explanations, the smoker is able to reduce the dissonance and continue the unhealthy behavior. There are a number of different situations that can create conflicts that lead to cognitive dissonance. Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.” The COVID-19 pandemic, an extreme public health crisis, cases rose to the hundred million and deaths at nearly four million worldwide. Reputable health organizations such as Lyu and Wehby studied the effects of wearing a face mask on the spread of COVID-19. When the COVID-19 vaccine was eventually released to the public, this only made the resistance stronger.

  • In this case, individuals who face such a decision are conflicted because not all beliefs are consistent with the decision.
  • According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent.
  • To reduce this dissonance, they may seek out new information that overrides the belief that greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming.

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