What is ‘cognitive dissonance’?

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.

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

4 thoughts on “What is ‘cognitive dissonance’?

  1. I think the reason why cognitive dissonance exists in our lives is that the damages or hurts in the consequences of the certain behaviors are not perceivable by our brains when we do them. In other words, time dimention fools our sensibilities. Acutally life itself is a cognitive dissonance, the result is the same wthout dbout, but we believe the difference in its periods.

  2. I try not to become frustrated by people who hold contradictory views. Instead, I try and take the time to understand their views.

    This is not easy, and requires patience and discipline

  3. I think most people experience conflicting moral dilemmas at some point in life. Topics such as evolution, religion and abortion are typically controversial. Many people aren’t consistent in their views on these issues and may alter their views to fit the situation they find themselves in. As an example young people who decide on pre-marital sex may be pressured to modify their previous attitude towards abortion and their religious beliefs.

  4. cvs2bvs has caused me to be more considerate of others views and not to jump to I’m right you’re wrong. Understanding cognitive dissonance helps me work through conflict

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