Another example can be seen in many people’s continuing to smoke two or three packs of cigarettes a day, even though research shows they are shortening their own lives. Cognitive dissonance is a theory in social psychology first proposed by Leon Festinger. According to this theory, cognitive dissonance describes the discomfort experienced when two cognitions are incompatible with each other. Therefore, the brain is an inference machine that attempts to actively predict and explain its sensations.
Many people seem able to cope with considerable dissonance and not experience the tensions the theory predicts. If a voluntary experience that has cost a lot of effort turns out badly, the dissonance is reduced by redefining the experience as https://ecosoberhouse.com/ interesting. Being paid only $1 is not sufficient incentive for lying and so those who were paid $1 experienced dissonance. They could only overcome that dissonance by coming to believe that the tasks really were interesting and enjoyable.
Fighting Cognitive Dissonance & The Lies We Tell Ourselves
This can prompt people to adopt certain defense mechanisms when they have to confront it. 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. 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. Relationships are typically built on shared attitudes, beliefs, and values.
- This creates a strong mental tension that can be reduced by either changing their thinking about smoking or changing their smoking behavior (i.e., stop smoking).
- People who experience dissonance but have no way to resolve it may also feel powerless or guilty.
- When people experience cognitive dissonance, they have to make a change in their thinking to reduce the amount of mental stress or discomfort that’s being caused.
- Here’s what you need to know about cognitive dissonance, and how to seek the proper care.
- She has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in mental health and women’s health.
This can help be able to detect any underlying mental illness that can be a major contributor to someone’s addictive behavior. Co-occurring disorders (addiction and substance disorder coinciding) can be managed with dual diagnosis treatment. Self-awareness seems to be a key to understanding how and when cognitive dissonance may play a role in your life. If you find yourself justifying or rationalizing decisions or behaviors that you’re not quite clear you firmly believe in, that might be a sign that cognitive dissonance is at work.
Resolving or reducing cognitive dissonance is not always an easy task — but it’s worth it. “It takes constant attention to work on ourselves, to continue to push to create better interactions with each other and more self-awareness,” Curry says. Consider if you’re working in a job you hate, suggests Michele Leno, PhD, a Michigan-based licensed psychologist and founder of DML Psychological Services. You have a pit in your stomach every morning, and you’re counting down the hours until it’s time to leave. Living with that dissonance probably means you’re fairly stressed out and angry every day. Recognizing and reconciling cognitive dissonance is not always a feel-good experience.
Read on to learn more about cognitive dissonance, including examples, signs a person might be experiencing it, causes, and how to resolve it. This episode of the podcast Behavioral Grooves features an interview with Dr. Kathleen Vohs on cognitive dissonance theory. Dr. Vohs discusses the topic as it relates to supporters cognitive dissonance treatment of Former President Donald Trump justifying one of his controversial tweets in 2019. Cognitive dissonance theory itself suggests that if patients are investing time, money, and emotional effort in the therapy, they will be likely to work hard to reach their therapeutic goals in order to justify their efforts.
Why Giving to Causes You Care About Is Good for Your Health
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. Hypocrisy involves a contradiction between a person’s supposed principles, beliefs, or character and who they really are or how they behave.
- People sometimes deal with this by finding ways to justify their behaviors or findings ways to discredit or ignore new information.
- It proposes that inconsistencies in a person’s cognition cause mental stress because psychological inconsistency interferes with the person’s functioning in the real world.
- From a psychological standpoint, cognitive dissonance is considered to be an important concept because it can help us understand how people make decisions and how they behave.
- “Then ask yourself why you behaved as you behaved.” This can help you see how you got into the situation and hopefully you can see a way to resolve it.