How to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance

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The individual will be motivated to alleviate these emotional reactions and could do so by reducing dissonance in some manner. We argue that detection of dissonance will follow the same principles as when people interpret any other stimuli as emotionally significant. Thus, appraisal theory of emotion, which argues that emotions are generated via the cognitive evaluation of surrounding stimuli, should be applicable to the dissonance-detection process. In short, we argue that dissonance-reduction strategies (attitude change, trivialization, denial of responsibility, etc.) can be understood as emotion-regulation strategies. We further argue that this perspective contributes to reconciling fragmented (and sometimes contrary) viewpoints present in the literature on dissonance reduction. In addition to proposing the general model of dissonance reduction, we illustrate at the hand of empirical data how research on dissonance reduction can be performed without relying on experimental paradigms that focus on a specific reduction strategy.

Socrates was a Greek philosopher who emphasized the importance of questioning as a way to explore complex ideas and uncover assumptions. This philosophy has been adopted as a way to challenge cognitive distortions. Remember, cognitive restructuring refers to the process of challenging thoughts—it isn’t a single technique. There are many techniques that fall under the umbrella of cognitive restructuring, which we will describe (alongside several therapy tools) throughout this guide. Thoughts play a powerful role in determining how people feel and how they act. If someone thinks positively about something, they’ll probably feel positively about it.

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Anything that sets up an inner conflict between two concepts or behaviors can cause cognitive dissonance. If you find yourself telling half-truths to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, this may result in cognitive dissonance. Have you ever been aware that some of your actions contradict your beliefs? She says that reaching more consistency in your thoughts and behaviors will create a world that’s less harmful, less likely to trigger negative emotions, and therefore, less problematic. Resolving or reducing cognitive dissonance is not always an easy task — but it’s worth it.

  • Note, however, that these suggestions are not part of the core assumptions of the general model.
  • However, when such attempts to stand up for oneself in anger-dominated situations fail, the anger might be replaced by a depressed mood and avoidance behavior instead (see, e.g., Harmon-Jones and Harmon-Jones, 2016).
  • Applying a broader emotional perspective, we will incorporate many of the previous, seemingly disconnected, accounts of dissonance reduction into a general model (see Figure 1).
  • Research from Acharya, Blackwell and Sen shows that individuals committing violence against members of another group develop hostile attitudes towards their victims as a way of minimizing cognitive dissonance.

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. Another example can be seen in many people’s continuing to smoke two or three packs of cigarettes a day, even though research cognitive dissonance treatment shows they are shortening their own lives. If you’ve been pressured to say or do something against your wishes, you’ve experienced forced compliance. Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling a person can experience when having two conflicting ideas or experiences.

Effects of cognitive dissonance on mental health

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our team aims to help our clients with addiction and mental illness recover. This is done by learning how to change their thought patterns and remove their dissonance through various methods of therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Despite the physical and psychological consequences of drinking and taking drugs, individuals who have this disease, view their addictive behaviors differently than those who don’t. But sometimes, we have feelings of dissonance and we don’t understand — or can’t trace — where they came from.

When concepts are dissonant, this creates internal stress and the drive to make a change. “Cognitive” refers to knowledge and comprehension, gained through the senses, experiences, or thought processes. Maybe you’re an environmental activist who drives to work or uses air travel for long distances. Traumatic events and experiences can be passed down from parents to children and subsequent generations.

Words Nearby cognitive dissonance

By using these types of explanations, the smoker is able to reduce the dissonance and continue the unhealthy behavior. People like to believe that they are logical, consistent, and good at making decisions. Cognitive dissonance can interfere with the perceptions they hold about themselves and their abilities, which is why it can often feel so uncomfortable and unpleasant. The degree of dissonance experienced can depend on a few different factors. Among them are how highly a particular belief is valued and the degree to which the beliefs are inconsistent. They further presupposed that participants would be driven to reduce the dissonance by justifying their behavior.

cognitive dissonance treatment

Those few who have done so, have asked individuals to state what they feel “at the moment,” and not what they feel in relation to the dissonant situation (i.e., “to what extent did you experience these emotions while writing the essay?”). The former formulation could give rise to substantial measurement error, since individuals might report current mood or general emotionality rather than emotions related to the situation (see Cancino-Montecinos et al., 2018 for an empirical study on this point). Further, studies have focused on single emotions (e.g., guilt) or affective states (e.g., discomfort) in relation to a certain reduction strategy (predominantly attitude change). Moreover, it requires the investigation of how (and to what extent) the individual feels emotionally during the dissonant situation, and not how the individual feels in general.

The Impacts of Cognitive Dissonance

You didn’t think about it much before, but if you continue to make the same clothing choices, you’ll feel some cognitive dissonance. We also don’t like to second-guess our choices, even if later they are proven wrong or unwise. By second-guessing ourselves, we suggest we may not be as wise or as right as we’ve led ourselves to believe. This may lead us to commit to a particular course of action and become insensitive to and reject alternative, perhaps better, courses that come to light.

cognitive dissonance treatment

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