Skill #22 Cognitive Dissonance: Mind the Gap

Justifying attempts to resolve the feeling of dissonance by numbing, blaming, avoiding, or excusing the fact that we have a gap. This is strongest when it has to do with a belief about ourselves. For example, the thought “I value kindness” paired with the action “I just punched someone in the face” is going to bring on some pretty strong feelings of regret, guilt, and disappointment.

  • In an intriguing experiment, Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) asked participants to perform a series of dull tasks (such as turning pegs in a peg board for an hour).
  • To reduce this dissonance, they may seek out new information that overrides the belief that greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming.
  • However, unlike human cognition, which functions more like a classical computer, AI operates in a state that is increasingly akin to quantum computing.
  • When we change our behaviors to line up with our values, the dissonance goes away.
  • The predictive dissonance account is highly compatible with the action-motivation model since, in practice, prediction error can arise from unsuccessful behavior.
  • Here’s a look at some everyday examples of cognitive dissonance and how you might come to terms with them.

In fact, it is a psychological mechanism that helps us perceive our world (and our place in it) consistently. It is a mechanism that alerts us when we are not acting in line with our beliefs, attitudes, or plans. Imagine confronting a sunbather with the information that excessive sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. The two thoughts – ‘sunbathing can cause cancer’ and ‘I am sunbathing’ – will cause the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

How Cognitive Dissonance Leads to Behavior Change

By second-guessing ourselves, we suggest we may not be as wise or as right as we’ve led ourselves to believe. This may lead us to commit to a particular course of action and become insensitive to and reject alternative, perhaps better, courses that come to light. That’s why many people seek to avoid or minimize regret in their lives, and seek “closure” — imposing a definitive end to an event or relationship.

treatment for cognitive dissonanc

Affective dissonance occurs when someone’s feelings/emotions do not match up with their behavior or thoughts. Cognitive dissonance is when there are conflicting thoughts, feelings, or attitudes. This is when dissonance occurs within an individual’s thoughts, feelings, or attitudes. The concept of cognitive dissonance was created by Leon Festinger in the 1950s.

Challenge your beliefs

Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges. When you accept yourself for who you are, it’s easier to resolve any cognitive dissonance that might be happening. This means that you don’t have to change who you are to fit into someone else’s idea of what’s right or wrong. When you’re more flexible, it’s easier to find solutions to problems rather than get frustrated. This will help you avoid cognitive dissonance because it won’t cause as much suffering when things don’t go your way.

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. However, cognitive dissonance can also be a tool for personal and social change. Drawing a person’s attention to the dissonance between their behavior and their values may increase their awareness of the inconsistency and empower them to act. Discrepancy between an attitude and a behavior – eating a doughnut while thinking of reducing calorie intake – leads to psychological discomfort called cognitive dissonance (Harmon-Jones, 2019). It is essential to acknowledge and resolve these conflicts as much as possible.

Who May Experience Cognitive Dissonance?

This can be difficult, but it will help resolve some of your feelings of anger or resentment towards them so that they won’t cause as much suffering for you in the present moment. It’s important that before making any decisions or coming to any conclusions about something, that you take the time to think it through. This will help you avoid feeling like your actions were out of line with what you want deep down inside.

It is beneficial to avoid cognitive dissonance when someone’s beliefs do not line up with their behavior. Because it shows they are a good person who stands by what they believe in. It also helps them clarify things about themselves and what they believe. Cognitive dissonance can have destructive consequences for society when it’s not resolved.

Cognitive dissonance in a  way is mental illness within itself, and without treatment, the chances of relapse are high, and most importantly, it exacerbates an individual’s condition and hinders their chances of a successful recovery. cognitive dissonance treatment Say you’re a student looking to choose between two different universities you’d like to attend. After being accepted to each, you’re asked to freely rate the universities after considering each college’s pros and cons.

treatment for cognitive dissonanc

A person might not want to engage in dissonant behavior, but addiction can make it feel physically and mentally difficult to bring their behavior into alignment with their values. Therapists aim to help their patients by understanding and changing their attitudes, emotions, or behaviors. She needs to change her thinking to line up with reality, place more value on health and moderation, improve her base of self-worth, and let go of perfectionistic standards that are keeping her sick and miserable. When she changes her thinking to line up with a healthier set of behaviors (like exercising 60 minutes a day), then she can feel more peace with her thoughts and actions. When we change our behaviors to line up with our values, the dissonance goes away.