Cognitive dissonance is something humanity has had since it first started the first fire. However, since the Internet has made it easier to scrutinize everyone, cognitive dissonance seems to be more noticed as of late.
When studying cognitive dissonance psychology, it’s quite intriguing to see how it works, and how people explain away their cognitive dissonance. Let’s take a look at the concept.
What is Cognitive Dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is when a person has two or more thoughts, opinions, or philosophies that are contradicting with one another, and it causes them to feel uncomfortable. It’s similar to hypocrisy, but hypocrisy is more focused on the performance of behaviors that are different from what they preach.
It’s a Spectrum
The feeling of cognitive dissonance can be big or small depending on how big the contradiction is. Sometimes, there is a small contradiction in the two thoughts, but there may be a way to have both ideas work in harmony with a little bit of adjustment. Say you believe that you should eat healthily, but you also crave a pizza. You could adjust it to cut your portions or put healthier ingredients on the pizza.
However, if someone is passionate about something and there is a big contradiction, a person may become extremely uncomfortable. For example, politics. Oftentimes, people don’t pick issues one at a time and create a non-contradicting philosophy. Instead, they may pick a political side and try to advocate for everything their party stands for, even if there are contradictions. Some examples include being pro-life, but also bein in support of an unneeded war, or wanting bigger government, but also wanting the government to stay out of your business.
Explain it Away
Another factor that can intensify the cognitive dissonance is when there is no way to explain it. Some people with cognitive dissonance may have an excuse or a reason why their conflicting ideas work, even if that reason is flimsy. However, some people don’t have a reason at all, and they may struggle with their conflicting ideas.
There are some who may try to change their outlook so there is less, or no, contradiction. Some people may get aggressive towards those who called them out, or point out the contradictions of others as some justification.
You Can Find it Anywhere
What makes cognitive dissonance so interesting is that everyone has it a little bit. Regardless of your political or religious affiliation, your actions and beliefs may conflict a little. You may feel cognitive dissonance in extreme emotional situations as well, such as love.
This isn’t to justify it; it’s to show that we are all a little flawed in our logic. Also, self-awareness is another factor that can make us cognitive dissonant.
Some people are more self-aware than others. There are some who are always scrutinizing their belief system and their actions, trying to be as consistent as possible, or changing their beliefs with new evidence or a sign of a contradiction.
Then, there are those who lack the self-awareness and instead express their opinions without taking a look at them.
While some are more self-aware than others, you can learn how to be more self-aware with time. Going on autopilot is a human trait that many need to move past in some situations.
What’s the Lesson Here?
The lesson is that we all need to be a little more consistent in our lives. While conflicting ideas are always going to happen, by taking a look at what you believe or what you are thinking, it can be much easier for you to explain your positions.
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