what is cognitive dissonance theory

Cognitive dissonance theory and motivation for change: a case study

He may decide to discard his belief about selling in May, to revise it into a general rule with specific exceptions, or to stick with his prior belief and downplay the value of his broker’s advice or trustworthiness. This dynamic is playing out during the pandemic among the many people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. And when the facts clash with their preexisting convictions, some people would sooner jeopardize their health and everyone else’s than accept new information or admit to being wrong. As with any behavioural theory, it is assuming how individuals will act based on their context. Considering cognitive dissonance, those who tend to be more anxious are likely to experience dissonance, whilst others can cope with the tensions.

what is cognitive dissonance theory

Unfortunately, though, there’s no flashing red light that tells you when you’re not in alignment with your values — it’s all internal. In one study, researchers asked participants to give speeches that would encourage the audience to take a certain positive action. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological tension we feel as we try to reckon with two opposing pieces of information. We generally try to eliminate this dissonance by taking a new, consonant action or by dismissing the incongruent information.

Implications of the Theory

People tend to be emotionally invested in things that take a lot of effort, so if the action does not have the intended effects, it may cause cognitive dissonance. The notion of cognitive dissonance was developed by the American cognitive psychologist Leon Festinger in the 1950s. Festinger thought that people were driven to promote the harmony and coherence of their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Thus, when people develop a sense that there has been a breakdown in their mental harmony, they will attempt to end their cognitive dissonance. Everyone experiences cognitive dissonance in some form in their life. It’s more common to feel discomfort and to feel like you need to resolve the dissonance when cognitions are important to you or they conflict heavily with each other.

  • Fritz Heider proposed a motivational theory of attitudinal change that derives from the idea that humans are driven to establish and maintain psychological balance.
  • It’s also vital to remember that some online learners may not behave as the theory suggests.
  • The impact of a dissonance-based eating disorders intervention on implicit attitudes to thinness in women of diverse sexual orientations.
  • As you can imagine, participant’s attitudes toward this task were highly negative.

Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. They might decide that they value smoking more than they value health, deeming the behavior “worth it” in terms of risks versus rewards. You know that smoking is harmful to your health, but you do it anyway. You rationalize this action by pointing to your high stress levels.

Q3: What are 7 signs of cognitive dissonance?

You don’t actually feel that way, but by denying your emotions, you’re trying to reduce the dissonance. So in the alien rescue example, when the members of the group realized the aliens weren’t actually coming down to save them from Earth’s doom, they entered a state of discomfort. In order to reduce that discomfort, they started to recruit more members.

what is cognitive dissonance theory

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. Many experiments have since been https://ecosoberhouse.com/ conducted to illustrate cognitive dissonance in more ordinary contexts. An introduction to cognitive dissonance theory and an overview of perspectives on the theory. Reduce cognitive dissonance by being mindful of their values and pursuing opportunities to live those values.

Cognitive dissonance: What to know

Forced compliance is what happens when external circumstances pressure one into performing actions that do not reflect one’s personal cognitive dissonance theory beliefs. Decision-making can cause cognitive dissonance when one imagines another action may have yielded better results.

What is meant by cognitive dissonance theory?

Cognitive dissonance theory postulates that an underlying psychological tension is created when an individual's behavior is inconsistent with his or her thoughts and beliefs. This underlying tension then motivates an individual to make an attitude change that would produce consistency between thoughts and behaviors.