How to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance can feel a lot like anxiety and stress — and they often come paired together. When you’re stressed or anxious, you could affect your overall mental, emotional and physical health. Dr. Stacey Diane Arañez Litam (she, her, siya) is a licensed professional clinical counselor and supervisor, a national certified counselor, a certified clinical mental health counselor, as well as a board-certified diplomate and sexologist.

  • As a result of wanting to resolve the mental conflict of cognitive dissonance, people might either change their behavior or ignore information that goes against their desires and goals.
  • When there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort.
  • The scale indexes have presented an insufficient homogeneity several times (Harmon-Jones, 2000a; Priolo et al., 2016), and their inter-correlations fluctuate (Elliot & Devine, 1994; Galinsky et al., 2000; Matz & Wood 2005).
  • Some people cope with having contradictory beliefs or information by blocking them out and numbing themselves with drugs and alcohol.
  • In two pre-registered studies, we investigated the usefulness of the PAD model to assess the CDS induced by the hypocrisy paradigm (Study 1) and by writing a counterattitudinal essay (Study 2).

When faced with a deadline, you could even cut corners to accomplish a task, but then experience discomfort when it’s done because you value hard work. When you do something or behave a certain way that goes against your values, you may experience cognitive dissonance. This clash of beliefs and disruption of thought can also occur if you have two or more conflicting beliefs and you’re torn between them. Sometimes, cognitive dissonance treatment the ways that people resolve cognitive dissonance contribute to unhealthy behaviors or poor decisions. To deal with the feelings of discomfort then, they might find some way of rationalizing the conflicting cognition. For instance, they may justify their sedentary behavior by saying that their other healthy behaviors—like eating sensibly and occasionally exercising—make up for their largely sedentary lifestyle.

Causes of Cognitive Dissonance

In our opinion, these studies are valuable as the psychological discomfort is supposed to be the core of the theory and the mediator of all cognitive dissonance. In this context, further studies investigating the nature and characteristics of the CDS will be informative and will help understanding the processes behind cognitive dissonance. The third limitation is that there are few studies using reliable measures of the CDS. As we wrote above, instruments that focus on general feelings or emotions may in fact capture other emotions. As most cognitive dissonance paradigms are likely to induce other emotions, it may be more pertinent to distinctively assess the nature of the psychological discomfort involved in the CDS. In this regard, the Dissonance Thermometer (Devine et al., 1999; Elliot & Devine, 1994) is the most common means to assess CDS.

cognitive dissonance treatment

Introverts, on the other hand, experienced increased dissonance discomfort and were more likely to change their attitude to match the majority of others in the experiment. If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, you can reduce your uncomfortable feelings by changing your existing beliefs, adding new beliefs, or changing your behaviors. While changing your beliefs or your behaviors is an effective way of dealing with uncomfortable feelings related to cognitive dissonance, this approach is not always a linear process.

Challenge current beliefs

In this condition, only seven participants (11%) chose to write in favour of an increase, thus confirming the idea that writing arguments in favour of an increase was counterattitudinal for most students. The hypocrisy paradigm consists of inducing participants to support a norm and then remembering instances of their behaviours that violated the norm (Aronson, 1992; Priolo et al., 2019). In our study, participants were first presented with a list of seven anonymous quotations aiming to increase public concern about the protection of the environment and allegedly coming from public personalities. This procedure was intended to increase the salience of the environmental protection norm (Stone & Fernandez, 2008).

  • You might decide that your choice is OK in comparison to your beliefs or you might minimize the negative aspects of your decision to feel better.
  • To safeguard our worldview, we counter these threats by seeking out perspectives that reinforce it.
  • These feelings may even lead you to hide your actions or decisions from others or to feel like you are a hypocrite.

Cognitive dissonance can often have a powerful influence on our behaviors and actions. It doesn’t just influence how you feel; it also motivates you to take action to reduce feelings of discomfort. Sometimes learning new information can lead to feelings of cognitive dissonance.

Preventing Cognitive Dissonance in the First Place

When faced with two similar choices, we are often left with feelings of dissonance because both options are equally appealing. When someone tells a lie and feels uncomfortable about it because he fundamentally sees himself as an honest person, he may be experiencing cognitive dissonance. That is, there is mental discord related to a contradiction between one thought (in this case, knowing he did something wrong) and another (thinking that he is honest).

  • Self-awareness and mindfulness practice empower us to notice inconsistencies in our thinking and find the space between dissonance triggers and our reaction so we can choose a response we are truly happy with.
  • This is because the cognitive dissonance theory explains that people are willing to increase their own delusional ways of thinking to protect themselves from reality.
  • You may also experience cognitive dissonance when you have situations where friends, family members or coworkers act a certain way that don’t align with your beliefs.

This kind of incongruence — called cognitive dissonance — can cause some serious mental discomfort. That’s because if you’re not self-aware, cognitive dissonance can leave you acting and feeling pretty out of character. Most of these techniques share a common grounding and background in traditional cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy techniques.