Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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The theory of Cognitive Dissonance states that when individuals are presented with information that implies we act in a way that contradicts our moral standards, we experience discomfort (Aronson, Wilson, and Akert, 1998, P. 191). This is considered Cognitive Dissonance, A psychological term used to describe mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information; arouses unease or tension; relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information; persuading self that no conflict really exists; reconciling differences; or resorting to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in conception of world and of self; first introduced in 1950s; has become major point of discussion and research in psychology (as cited in Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, 1996). This theory was developed by Leon Festinger (1957), is concerned with the relationships among cognitions. Cognition, for the purpose of this theory, may be thought of as a piece of knowledge, thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. Knowledge may be about an attitude, an emotion, a behavior, or a value. For instance, the fact that you like the color red is cognition. People have a massive amount of cognitions at the same time, and these cognitions create irrelevant, relationships with one another. Therefore, that the two cognitions have nothing to do with each other. This occurs most often when we do something that contradicts our moral beliefs.

If dissonance is experienced it is almost always uncomfortable, so the individual is motivated to reduce it. This causes the individual to identify the magnitude of their discomfort and, it is possible to predict what we can do to reduce dissonance. There are three basic ways to reduce dissonance. First are changing cognitions, an example is if two cognitions don't relate we can change one to make it relate to the other; or change each cognition in the direction of...
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