Cognitive Dissonance

Topics: Cognitive dissonance, Psychology, Emotion Pages: 2 (704 words) Published: April 24, 2013
Cognitive dissonance refers to any situation involving conflicting beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors. According to the text, A First Look at Communication Theory, cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold. This produces a feeling of discomfort, which leads to a change in one of the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors to reduce discomfort and restore balance.

“The tension of dissonance motivates us to change either our behavior or our belief in an effort to avoid that distressing feeling. The more important the issue and the greater the discrepancy between our behavior and our belief, the higher the magnitude of dissonance we will feel (Griffin 217).” I never realized it, but cognitive dissonance is something that people go through everyday of their lives. The fear of failure or unwanted change is easily avoided as long as you make yourself believe that everything will be fine without the challenge at task.

There are three mental mechanisms that people use to ensure that their actions and attitudes are consistently compatible, and they are selective exposure, postdecision dissonance, and minimal justification. Festinger’s first hypothesis was that selective exposure prevents dissonance. “Selective exposure is the tendency people have to avoid information that would create cognitive dissonance because it’s incompatible with their current beliefs (Griffin 219). It is human nature for people to surround themselves with others who are like them. For example, people who struggle with obesity tend to constantly be around others with the same struggles. Their similar eating habits gives them a sense of comfort that they may not feel with others, and allows them to continue their unhealthy habits guilt free.

Festinger’s second hypothesis was that postdecision dissonance creates a need for...
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