Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

Cognitive dissonance theory is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

Dissonance normally occurs when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her cognitions. This happens when one idea implies the opposite of another.

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The Funny Feeling Inside Your Head …

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

Wikipedia: Cognitive dissonance is a psychological state that describes the uncomfortable feeling between what one holds to be true and what one knows to be true. Cognitive dissonance theory is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

Similar to ambivalence, the term cognitive dissonance describes conflicting thoughts or beliefs (cognitions) that occur:

– at the same time, or
– when engaged in behaviors that conflict with one’s beliefs.

In academic literature, the term refers to attempts to reduce the discomfort of conflicting thoughts, by performing actions that are opposite to one’s beliefs.

Example:
Smokers tend to experience cognitive dissonance because it is widely accepted that cigarettes cause lung cancer, yet virtually everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. In terms of the theory, the desire to live a long life is dissonant with the activity of doing something that will most likely shorten one’s life.

The tension produced by these contradictory ideas can be reduced by quitting smoking, denying the evidence of lung cancer, or justifying one’s smoking. For example, a smoker could rationalize his or her behavior by concluding that everyone dies and so cigarettes do not actually change anything. Or a person could believe that smoking keeps one from gaining weight, which would also be unhealthy.

More from Wikipedia …

See also: How and Why We Lie to Ourselves: Cognitive Dissonance

••• Click through to example When Prophesy Fails …

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4 thoughts on “Cognitive dissonance

  1. my instict is to read the word, that’s easy, much harder tyo read the colour but with practice it becomes a little easier

  2. “what one holds to be true vs what one thinks to be true”
    holding and thinking?
    what’s the difference exactly?

  3. Everyone holds beliefs not supported by evidence and its almost certainly true that everyone believes things that are demonstrably false. (See Noam Chomsky’s “Necessary Illusions” for an analysis of why this is important in democratic societies.) Because you can logically prove anything from a contradiction (any false statement plus any true statement embody a contradiction), people have no trouble believing that they are highly rational, even when their conclusions are absurd or obviously contrary to observed fact. The mechanism that enables us not to notice this is very, very powerful. Addicts have mastered the art. Anyone in recovery from a serious addiction will be familiar with the sense of cognitive dissonance that goes along with seeing how his or her former life completely violated deeply held values. It’s a good idea, when you get that “funny feeling”, to stop and ask yourself, “What do I firmly believe, that is actually not true…about the world, about myself, about my culture, about cause and effect, about life.”