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Cognitive dissonance

Last updated on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.



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Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when an individual holds conflicting beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors, causing discomfort and internal tension. This discrepancy prompts the person to try to reduce the dissonance by altering their beliefs or justifying their actions.

The Intriguing Psychology Behind Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a fascinating concept in the realm of psychology, particularly within the fields of Cognitive Science and Decision Sciences. This phenomenon delves into the discomfort experienced when there is a discrepancy between beliefs or behaviors, leading individuals to seek harmony and consistency in their cognition.

Understanding Cognitive Dissonance

Leon Festinger first introduced the theory of cognitive dissonance in the late 1950s, suggesting that individuals strive for internal consistency. When inconsistencies arise, such as holding conflicting beliefs or engaging in contradictory behaviors, it causes psychological discomfort. This inconsistency challenges our concept of self and threatens our sense of stability.

For example: Imagine a person who is aware of the health risks associated with smoking but continues to smoke. This individual experiences cognitive dissonance due to the conflict between their knowledge and behavior.

Resolving Cognitive Dissonance

Individuals attempt to alleviate cognitive dissonance through various means, such as:

By resolving cognitive dissonance, individuals restore a sense of balance and reduce the mental stress caused by conflicting thoughts or actions.

Implications in Decision Making

Cognitive dissonance plays a significant role in decision-making processes. It can influence how individuals interpret information, make choices, and rationalize their actions. Recognizing cognitive dissonance can help individuals become more aware of their thought patterns and lead to more informed decision-making.


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