Cognitive dissonance is when we have a gap between what we believe is right and what we are doing. To reduce the dissonance, you may try to suppress your feelings, rationalize what you have done, or justify why you made a particular decision. And the greater the dissonance, the harder you will try to reduce the mental anguish you feel from it.

  • Most of these techniques share a common grounding and background in traditional cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy techniques.
  • This exercise will help your clients become aware of cognitive distortions that previously went unnoticed, and unquestioned.
  • If a woman reads that her favorite politician has done something immoral, she could conclude that the charges have been invented by his enemies—or, instead, rethink her support.
  • There are a variety of ways people are thought to resolve the sense of dissonance when cognitions don’t seem to fit together.
  • Remember that cognitive dissonance is about how you feel inside when you go against what you believe, whether by choice or circumstance.
  • Researchers have found that people usually deal with these dilemmas by seeking support from those who share one’s beliefs, but also by refuting and/or misperceiving/misinterpreting the new information (see e.g., Gawronski et al., 2014).

However, Festinger believed that all people are motivated to avoid or resolve cognitive dissonance due to the discomfort it causes. This can prompt people to adopt certain defense mechanisms when they have to confront it. Cognitive dissonance cognitive dissonance treatment is the discomfort a person feels when their behavior does not align with their values or beliefs. As discussed above, there is good reason to suggest that some clusters of emotions might be related to specific reduction strategies.

Coping With Cognitive Dissonance

Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense why we would choose the lower-rated school. When looking at other people’s cognitive distortions, they seem easy to dispute. No matter how much your friend believes that they’re the “worst person ever”, you know that to be untrue. But when it comes to a person’s own cognitive distortions, they can be much more difficult to overcome. We believe in our own cognitive distortions, no matter how inaccurate they may be. Sometimes, the mere awareness of a cognitive distortion will be enough to eliminate it.

  • The theory is based on the idea that two cognitions can be relevant or irrelevant to each other (Festinger, 1957).
  • Study results have been mixed about whether diet, exercise or other healthy lifestyle choices can prevent or reverse cognitive decline.
  • This organization of past accounts will not just clarify the existing literature, it will also generate novel ideas and a new set of hypotheses not considered in past dissonance research.
  • You can also lessen the chances of dissonance beginning in the first place if you practice being mindful, Noulas says.

Hence, there are several different notions on how the dissonance-reduction process might work, but no account has yet managed to encapsulate the widespread findings in the literature (see also McGrath, 2017; Vaidis and Bran, 2018, on this point). Some of the ways people reduce discomfort from cognitive dissonance include seeking information that aligns with and supports current beliefs, reducing the conflicting belief’s importance, and changing beliefs to reduce the feelings of conflict. When there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort.

Cognitive Dissonance: 50 Years of a Classic Theory – Joel Cooper

You may experience cognitive dissonance in any aspect of your life, including your health, spending habits, political beliefs, or religious beliefs. When a person always has a rational explanation for their irrational behavior, this is known in psychology as the cognitive dissonance theory. To ease the psychological pain of rejecting one choice (FOMO, anyone?) we often start justifying our decision. When we do this by thinking up positives for our choice and negatives for the other option, it’s called the “spreading of alternatives.” Your brain feels better when you can align your behavior with your values.

cognitive dissonance treatment

Cognitive dissonance has been studied for more than 60 years and many insightful findings have come from this research. However, some important theoretical and methodological issues are yet to be resolved, particularly regarding dissonance reduction. In this paper, we place dissonance theory in the larger framework of appraisal theories of emotion, emotion regulation, and coping. The basic premise of dissonance theory is that people experience negative affect (to varying degrees) following the detection of cognitive conflict.

Causes of cognitive dissonance

Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) conducted one of the first studies examining cognitive dissonance. If your provider suspects that you have cognitive changes, you may be referred to a specialist. This specialist may be a neurologist, psychiatrist or neuropsychologist.

cognitive dissonance treatment

Often, we deal with cognitive inconsistencies without being aware of them. This includes refraining from judgment and instead being accepting of our observations. Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into Positive CBT and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.