Cognitive Dissonance and Addiction

People experience cognitive dissonance for many reasons, but a common trigger is work. “Maybe you’re at a company with a work culture or attitudes that are in opposition or conflict to what you believe,” according to Dr. Scott. School is another catalyst for tension as people are acclimating to a new environment, meeting others and learning new information.

  • It is a mechanism that alerts us when we are not acting in line with our beliefs, attitudes, or plans.
  • We consider ourselves to be truthful, hard-working, health-conscious, and in control.
  • People attempt to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information.

Dissonance can also be experienced vicariously through people of a social group that we identify with. When they act inconsistently with their attitude, we feel the same discomfort as if we had acted inconsistently with our attitude ourselves (Cooper, 2016). However, while that may be true, evidence-based scientific research has shown that this disease plays mind games, controlling all aspects of a person’s life, mentally, physically, and socially. Although, when something they once believed turns out too good to be true, it conflicts with their pre-existing beliefs about their decision-making abilities. There is no doubt that cognitive dissonance can have a powerful influence on our behaviors and actions.

Predictive dissonance model

Typically, when we feel psychological dissonance, it’s because one of these patterns of thought is being challenged. We may develop these biases to avoid discomfort or changing our behavior. The truth is, most of us have experienced dissonance at one time or another.

cognitive dissonance treatment

In 1956, psychologist Jack Brehm observed that when people are given a choice between two similar items, they tend to believe that the item they chose is objectively better. This became known as the “free-choice paradigm.” If the items were basically equal, people would begin to invent “advantages” for the one they chose. So even if the university we didn’t choose was rated higher initially, our choice dictates that more often than not, we’ll rate it higher.

Cognitive dissonance vs. cognitive bias

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. Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and cognitive dissonance treatment perceptions, so this conflict causes unpleasant feelings of unease or discomfort. When there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort. It was proven that individuals tend to look for some sort of stability and dependability with their attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts.

People may run into problems with cognitive dissonance because it can be, in its most basic form, a sort of lie to oneself. As with all lies, it depends on the size of the lie and whether it’s more likely to hurt you in some way in the long run. We tell “little white lies” everyday in our social lives (“Oh yes, that’s a great color on you!”) that bring little harm to either side and help smooth over otherwise awkward situations. So while cognitive dissonance resolves the internal anxiety we face over two opposing beliefs or behaviors, it may also inadvertently reinforce future bad decisions. Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person’s behavior and beliefs do not complement each other or when they hold two contradictory beliefs.

Study 2: Counterattitudinal Essay

For the purpose of developing a relevant instrument, we believe that there is much to gain from taking a step back and examining the characteristics of the CDS in a more global framework. While cognitive dissonance theory has rarely been linked to psychological models of emotions, these models can be used to better describe the nature of the CDS. Indeed, decades of research have investigated the nature and structure of human emotions, and it seems senseless to ignore this work in the examination of the CDS. A smoker, for example, who knows that smoking causes cancer, experiences cognitive dissonance if she continues to smoke. But that is difficult, so most smokers convince themselves that the links between smoking and lung cancer are not quite as strong as doctors claim (modify belief, or avoid the information).

Doing some soul searching to determine the areas of your life where contradiction exists can shed light on areas you may need to work on. Maybe you always expect your friends to be prompt when you have dinner plans, but you’re usually 10 minutes late yourself. Adjusting your behavior or your expectations of your friends might help lessen conflict down the line. You can use that self-awareness to guide your future actions and decisions.

What is cognitive dissonance and how do you reduce it?

The ones that received a dollar were more likely to rate the activity highly. In better understanding cognitive dissonance and the role it plays in most of our lives, we can be on the lookout for it and its sometimes-negative effects. Avoiding, delegitimizing, and limiting the impact of cognitive dissonance may result in a person not acknowledging their behavior and thus not taking steps to resolve the dissonance.

cognitive dissonance treatment

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