People fail to realize that everyone has different feelings and beliefs, which will influence how they are going to behave. In other words, as cognitive dissonance is described as a person who experiences feelings of internal discomfort, as a result of having two opposing cognitions in their mind at the same time, Festinger’s theory was correct. We all face cognitive dissonance at times since we’re always learning new things that might demand change in our behavior or belief system. Whether you resolve feelings of cognitive dissonance may depend on influences from work and family, your goals, or your identity. Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling that results from finding out new information that contradicts what is already known about a situation. This discomfort also happens when someone’s behavior doesn’t match reality or facts.

It’s also been successfully employed to change an over reliance on online gaming, road rage, and many other negative behaviors. Matz and his colleagues (2008) showed that our personality can help mediate the effects of cognitive dissonance. They found that people who were extraverted were less likely to feel the negative impact of cognitive cognitive dissonance treatment dissonance and were also less likely to change their mind. Introverts, on the other hand, experienced increased dissonance discomfort and were more likely to change their attitude to match the majority of others in the experiment. This theory has been discussed since the early days of Festinger’s discovery of cognitive dissonance.

Skill #22 Cognitive Dissonance: Mind the Gap

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. It is not possible to observe dissonance, as it is something a person feels internally. As such, there is no set of external signs that can reliably indicate a person is experiencing cognitive dissonance. American psychologist Leon Festinger first developed the concept in the 1950s. It can occur when a person holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time. Jocelyn Solis-Moreira is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Health, Live Science, and Discover Magazine, among other publications.

  • People sometimes deal with this by finding ways to justify their behaviors or findings ways to discredit or ignore new information.
  • The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study.
  • Changing the conflicting cognition is one of the most effective ways of dealing with dissonance but it is also one of the most difficult—particularly in the case of deeply held values and beliefs, such as religious or political leanings.
  • This includes refraining from judgment and instead being accepting of our observations.
  • Here, people are usually asked to publicly endorse a pro-social/pro-environmental issue.

Recognizing when your beliefs and behaviors are in conflict — or recognizing when two beliefs seem to oppose one another — can help you parse out and better understand your values and what you stand for. And ultimately, recognizing that inner conflict can help you understand yourself better and the values and beliefs that really matter to you, says Paraskevi Noulas, PsyD, a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health in New York City. It’s the tension that arises when we think one way but act another way, or when we hold two opposing views at the same time. You support a right to bear arms, but you also want to see stricter gun laws because you believe they’ll lead to fewer mass shootings.

A New Perspective on Dissonance Processes: Appraisal, Emotion Regulation, and Coping

Researchers focusing on induced compliance assume that dissonance reduction is a function of the importance of the dissonant cognitions (e.g., Hardyck and Kardush, 1968; Leippe and Eisenstadt, 1999). For unimportant cognitions, simply forgetting about it would be the predicted outcome. For moderately important cognitions, people might change their attitude, while for highly important cognitions the predicted outcome would be mental restructuring (e.g., reaffirming one’s original viewpoint via attitude bolstering). Concerning effort justification, Weick (1968) argues that the social context in which the dissonance occurs may determine the reduction strategy. For instance, dissonant behavior in the presence of friends and family (vs. alone) might bring about self-justification or vindication since the undoing of the dissonant behavior might be embarrassing. Within a developmental viewpoint, Kaplan and Crockett (1968) argue that cognitive complexity determines the reduction strategy.

Finally, the self-consistency model (Aronson, 1969, 1992, 1999) holds, as does the original theory, that people seek consonance, however only when cognitive conflicts threaten self-integrity. Not everyone practices what they preach—and that could trigger poor mental health. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict a person experiences when they hold simultaneous conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. If left unchecked, it could lead to anxiety and mental tension, and you might even try to rationalize harmful actions. Another way to cope with cognitive dissonance is to slow down when making decisions.

Cognitive Dissonance: Theory, Examples & How to Reduce It

For example, a person who tends to binge drink will justify their behavior by saying it is just a couple drink when in reality it is an excessive amount in a short period of time. We benefit, though, from approaching these inconsistencies with curiosity and grace, even when we want to change them. It’s giving you the information you need to be at peace with your decisions and to understand why you made them. Instead of feeling defensive, dig into the information that your response gives you.

Becoming aware of how conflicting beliefs impact the decision-making process is a great way to improve your ability to make faster and more accurate choices. Once a choice has been made, however, people need to find a way to reduce these feelings of discomfort. We accomplish this by justifying why our choice was the best option so we can believe that we made the right decision.

A central assumption of this general model is the pluralistic view on emotional reactions to cognitive dissonance and the subsequent reduction process. In other words, people can react vastly different to the same dissonant situation and then resolve the situation in several different ways. If a broader emotion-regulation conceptualization of the dissonance-reduction process is of any use at all, any given dissonance experiment should certainly provide some hints.

Importantly, the hostile attitudes may persist even after the violence itself declines (Acharya, Blackwell, and Sen, 2015). The application provides a social psychological basis for the constructivist viewpoint that ethnic and racial divisions can be socially or individually constructed, possibly from acts of violence (Fearon and Laitin, 2000). Their framework speaks to this possibility by showing how violent actions by individuals can affect individual attitudes, either ethnic or racial animosity (Acharya, Blackwell, and Sen, 2015). Cognitive dissonance theory, which was founded by American social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957, states that cognitive dissonance drives people to resolve the conflict between truths and behaviors that don’t match one another.