Cognitive dissonance is the state of having conflicting thoughts and attitudes, particularly in relation to behavioral decisions and attitude changes. Although many individuals view cognitive dissonance in a negative way, it is a catalyst for protecting mental health. It helps individuals justify their choices especially if they are irreversible. Cognitive dissonance occurs due to compelled compliance behavior, decision-making, and endeavor.
A real-world example of cognitive dissonance is when someone bumps into you on your way to work. In this case, one may fail to notice because the brain sorts it out quickly. An initial reaction may be instant upset, followed by rationalization. As the coffee spills, one may say to themselves that it is okay since there was little coffee left (Lawler, 2018). Also, there is a coffee-making machine at work so it is not that big of a deal. At times, cognitive dissonance happens in the mind without actively thinking about it (Lawler, 2018). Awareness of the mental and emotional damage caused by cognitive dissonance leads to instant actions to reduce the dissonance. In some cases, the reaction to dissonance involves adjustment of the relevance of an idea, belief, or attitude to make it less dissonant.
In the real-world example, the victim quickly talks themselves out of the anger initially felt. They believe that there exists no practical reason for anger as they can easily replace the spilled coffee at a coffee shop, or at work. Achieving stability reduces cognitive dissonance (Lawler, 2018). In other instances, one often rationalizes inconsistent thoughts or behavior to make it appear more consistent with their beliefs. Dissonance changes behavior to resolve conflict. Notably, it may lead to a change in attitude to make room for flexibility. The Social Animal focuses on patterns and motives of human behavior to analyze modern social psychology. In the same way, dissonance attracts stability, Aronsom suggests creating environments that encourage thriving. Aronson discusses human interaction and influence through social behavior. Similarly, cognitive dissonance discusses human interaction and influence.
Humans influence each other in positive and negative ways. Notably, beliefs and attitudes are personal and can be shared with others. Reaction to external beliefs or conflicting views shows cognitive dissonance. Humans have different reactions to conflict (Aronson & Aronson, 2018). As such, there are three ways to reduce dissonance including changing beliefs, adding new beliefs, and changing the importance of existing beliefs. The underlying tension created by inconsistent thoughts and beliefs can motivate individuals to change attitudes and produce consistent thoughts and behavior.
Human behavior is crucial in interacting and maintaining healthy relationships. Reducing cognitive dissonance is helpful in maintaining stability between individuals. It can also lead to attitude and behavior changes that influence human beliefs. There are solid belief systems that guide your actions in a perfect world. Aronson argues that understanding psychology develops the power to make others feel better and help them perform beyond their expectations (Aronson & Aronson, 2018). The psychology of cognitive dissonance creates inconsistencies that lead to chaos. Therefore, it is equally essential to ensure a return to that state of mental stability. In cases with more significant inconsistencies, there is difficulty in reconciling and returning to mental stability.
In conclusion, cognitive dissonance exists in forced compliance, effort, and decision-making. Aronson discusses social psychology and how individuals relate to each other. Dissonance can be positive and negative depending on existing beliefs. To prevent the negative consequences of cognitive dissonance, we can change beliefs, add new beliefs, and change the importance of existing beliefs. Cognitive dissonance focuses on the alignment of an individual’s beliefs and behavior. It is therefore important to understand that individuals have varying beliefs and behavior, which should be used to understand the needs and desires of people.
Aronson, E., & Aronson, J. (2018). The social animal. New York, NY, USA:: Worth Publishers, Macmillan Learning.
Lawler, M. (2018, February 28). Real-life examples of cognitive dissonance. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/neurology/cognitive-dissonance/real-life-examples-how-we-react/