The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in Our Lives

1. Introduction

It is a common experience to feel discomfort when two thoughts, emotions or behaviors conflict with each other. This feeling is called cognitive dissonance and was first described by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957.

Cognitive dissonance occurs when our beliefs, attitudes or behaviours are contradictory. For example, if you believe smoking is harmful to your health but you still smoke cigarettes, this creates dissonance.

The conflict can also be between two different social groups that we belong to. For example, if you are a member of a minority group and you also believe that all members of that group are lazy, this creates dissonance.

The feeling of dissonance is unpleasant and we often take action to reduce it. This paper will discuss the action that we take as a remedy to the dissonance feeling and how they affect our day-to-day life.

2. What is Cognitive Dissonance?

As stated in the introduction, cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort that occurs when our beliefs, attitudes or behaviours are contradictory.

This conflict can be either internal (within ourselves) or external (between two different social groups).

When the conflict is internal, it means that we have conflicting thoughts, emotions or behaviors within ourselves. For example, if you believe smoking is harmful to your health but you still smoke cigarettes, this creates dissonance.

The conflict can also be between two different social groups that we belong to. For example, if you are a member of a minority group and you also believe that all members of that group are lazy, this creates dissonance.

The feeling of dissonance is unpleasant and we often take action to reduce it. This paper will discuss the action that we take as a remedy to the dissonance feeling and how they affect our day-to-day life.

3. How Does Cognitive Dissonance Affect our Lives?

Cognitive dissonance affects our lives in many ways. It can influence the way we think about ourselves, the way we behave and the decisions we make.

One way cognitive dissonance affects us is by influencing the way we think about ourselves. Our beliefs about ourselves are often based on inherited aspects such as our race, gender or religion as well as biological aspects such as our intelligence or physical attractiveness.
These beliefs can also be based on deliberate decisions we have made such as choosing a career or going to university.
When these beliefs are contradicted by new information, it can create cognitive dissonance. For example, if you believe you are intelligent but then get a low score on a test, this creates dissonance.
In order to reduce this inconsistency, we may change our belief about ourselves. We may decide that the test was not a good measure of intelligence or that we did not try hard enough.
This process of changing our beliefs about ourselves in order to reduce cognitive dissonance is called self-justification.
Self-justification is a powerful force in our lives and can lead us to make some poor decisions. For example, people who justify their smoking by saying it relaxes them may continue to smoke even though it harms their health. Self-justification can also lead us to hold onto outdated beliefs even when there is new evidence that contradicts them.

Cognitive dissonance can also influence the way we behave. Our behavior is often based on our attitudes and beliefs. For example, if you believe that all members of a particular social group are lazy, you are likely to treat members of that group differently to how you would treat other people.
You may also avoid contact with members of that group or try to distance yourself from them.
However, if you then meet someone who is a member of that group but who is not lazy, it will create cognitive dissonance.
In order to reduce this inconsistency, you may change your behavior towards members of that group. You may start treating them more fairly or you may try to get to know them better.

Cognitive dissonance can also influence the decisions we make. When we are making a decision, we usually weigh up the pros and cons of each option. However, sometimes the decision we make is not based on logic but on how it makes us feel.
For example, if you are considering whether to buy a new car or take a vacation, you may weight up the pros and cons of each option.
However, if the thought of taking a vacation creates more dissonance than the thought of buying a car, you are more likely to choose the car. This is because the dissonance created by choosing the vacation would be greater than the dissonance created by choosing the car.

4. Conclusion

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force in our lives and can influence the way we think about ourselves, the way we behave and the decisions we make. It is important to be aware of the role cognitive dissonance plays in our lives so that we can make more informed decisions.

FAQ

Cognitive dissonance is the psychological stress that a person experiences when they hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. This can happen when someone's actions do not match their words, when their words do not match their thoughts, or when their thoughts do not match reality.

Some examples of cognitive dissonance in my life are when I procrastinate on studying for an exam even though I know I should be studying, or when I eat unhealthy food even though I know it is bad for me.

Cognitive dissonance has affected the way I think by making me question why I believe certain things and whether or not those beliefs are really true. It has also affected my behavior by causing me to second-guess myself and my decisions.

People experience cognitive dissonance because it is human nature to want to hold consistent beliefs and values. However, life is full of contradictions and inconsistencies, which can lead to cognitive dissonance.

The consequences of experiencing cognitive dissonance can be mild (e.g., feeling uncomfortable) to severe (e.g., anxiety, depression). In some cases, people may even act out in destructive ways in order to reduce the psychological stress that they are feeling (e..g,, substance abuse).

Yes, people can overcome cognitive dissonance by changing their beliefs or behaviors so that they are more consistent with each other