Cognitive Dissonance: Overview, Effects, and Examples

Only a single monograph exists exploring the nature, accuracy, and utility of cross-pressure theory (Sperlich 1971). 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. Mismatches between your beliefs and actions can lead to feelings of discomfort (and, sometimes, coping choices that have negative impacts), but such feelings can also sometimes lead to change and growth. When there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, and opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort. Negative consequences of cognitive dissonance reduction include procrastination or acting seemingly contrary to our values and beliefs. However, it can be beneficial to remind ourselves that it exists as a psychological safety mechanism to help us perceive the world consistently and to protect the perception we have about ourselves.

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

Sometimes you might find yourself engaging in behaviors that are opposed to your own beliefs due to external expectations at work, school, or in a social situation. This might involve going along with something due to peer pressure or doing something at work to avoid getting fired. This episode of the podcast Behavioral Grooves features an interview with Dr. Kathleen Vohs on cognitive dissonance theory.

Cognitive dissonance

The expectation of shared beliefs, values, and attitudes from family members can additionally influence romantic relationships. If these don’t align, we might consider justifying our relationship or breaking up. An extreme example of the negative consequences of cognitive dissonance is when we justify our partner’s harmful behavior toward us and get stuck in a toxic relationship. They committed to a belief in the prophecy but new information, the aliens not coming, caused them to question their commitment.

Most studies are unable to test such relations because they do not include all three elements noted in the previous paragraph, although there are a few exceptions (e.g., Kay, Jost, & Young, 2005, Study 1; Warner et al., 2012, Study 4). In one exception, Warner et al. (2012, Study 4) found that the temporal distance of victimization determined the degree to which people endorsed different BJW-defense strategies. When BJW-threat was high, participants who were told the victimization took place in the recent past blamed the victim’s behavior more than did participants told the victimization was in the distant past. To the contrary, participants who were told the victimization took place in the distant past blamed the character of the victim more and saw greater benefits in her suffering than did participants who thought the victimization was in the recent past. In terms of Hafer and Gosse’s (2010) organization of BJW-defense strategies, Warner et al.’s (2012) temporal distance variable probably influenced endorsement of different strategies through the availability principle.

Body image and health intervention

He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Despite the bombardment of societal messages to never quit, sometimes changing course is exactly what you should do. In an ideal world, good data alone would be enough to persuade people, but it cognitive dissonance treatment must be delivered effectively. 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.

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

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. Cognitive dissonance can often have a powerful influence on our behaviors and actions. It doesn’t just influence how you feel; it also motivates you to take action to reduce feelings of discomfort.

Cognitive Dissonance

Contributors survey recent discoveries about the role dissonance plays in a variety of information processes, as well as about connections between dissonance processes and other motivational processes. Other authors introduce mathematical and action-based models that summarize how dissonance works. Cognitive dissonance theory aims to explain the relationships between the motivation, perceptions and cognitions of an individual. It is a theory with very broad applications, showing that we aim for consistency between attitudes and behaviors and may not use very rational methods to achieve it.

according to cognitive dissonance theory human beings are motivated to

They were then paid either $1 or $20 to tell a waiting participant (a confederate) that the tasks were really interesting. Almost all of the participants agreed to walk into the waiting room and persuade the confederate that the boring experiment would be fun. 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). My desire to smoke was powerful, but at the same time I was afraid of trying it. Psychologist Leon Festinger published the book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance in 1957. Among the examples he used to illustrate the theory were doomsday cult members and their explanations for why the world had not ended as they had anticipated.

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