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Cognitive Dissonance - A catalyst for growth

When you have contrasting beliefs, you might feel uncomfortable. That is known as Cognitive Dissonance. The dissonance comes up when we realize two things are opposing each other. People with Cognitive Dissonance are good at self-introspection and self-awareness, if Cognitive dissonance is resolved effectively it shows learning, and the ability to change and act as a catalyst for overall growth.


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Rishabh Vats

2 years ago | 2 min read

What is Cognitive Dissonance?

When you have contrasting beliefs, you might feel uncomfortable. That is known as Cognitive Dissonance. The dissonance comes up when we realize two things are opposing each other.

Experiencing Cognitive Dissonance

Let us look at what category of people generally get affected by cognitive dissonance. First, we need to examine how strong one is attached to their beliefs because more or less that is the most crucial factor that leads to the dissonance. For instance - Someone might have strong religious beliefs but if someone opposes or give a contradictory religious statement against their feelings, they feel uneasy and offended.

Characteristics of Cognitive Dissonance

Offensive - Some people who are not open to new ideas and information but hold strong beliefs about a particular topic might get offend.

Embarrassment - After going through real facts and figures, sometimes what we believe might prove wrong in these cases, further leading to embarrassment.

Regret - Feeling shame and regret over past experiences, actions and beliefs.

Effects of Cognitive Dissonance in Real Life

Ignorance -  If you commit publicly but fail to achieve the targets, it might affect you negatively, leading to avoiding or ignoring others.

Denial - Sometimes you may start believing the new findings related to your beliefs which might hold, but still you stick to the older information and live in a state of denial.

Questioning - A person who wants to justify their opposing behaviour might ask for evidence on every piece of information.

Low Self-Worth - If others do not agree with your point and make fun of your beliefs, it might make you feel low. People with cognitive dissonance usually look for people with the same opinions and beliefs. 

HOW it leads to growth then?

Resolution - Cognitive dissonance can help us justify positive changes we would not otherwise make. Sometimes cognitive dissonance can help us establish positive behaviours or changes that our personality or previous habits would otherwise inhibit us from making.

Introspection - Ideally helps someone understand their inconsistent behaviour. Without cognitive dissonance, logic wouldn’t have much meaning.

How to resolve Cognitive Dissonance?

Dissonance can be reduced in one of three ways: 

  1. Changing existing beliefs. 
  2. Adding new beliefs.
  3. Reducing the importance of the beliefs.

Change one or more of the attitudes.

When a behaviour is one of the discordant parts, the person can modify or stop the activity. However, as it is generally challenging for people to alter well-learned behavioural reactions, this dissonance reduction frequently causes issues.

New information that can outweigh the dissonant beliefs.

For instance, if a person smokes, thinking that smoking causes lung cancer will be dissonant. The dissonance could be lessened with fresh knowledge, like the statement that "science has not established definitively that smoking causes lung cancer."

Reduce the importance of the cognitions

Increasing the appeal of the preferred choice while decreasing the attractiveness of the rejected alternative is a frequent strategy for reducing dissonance.

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Rishabh Vats


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