Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance: Definition, History, and 4 Causes

At some moments in life, we are often faced with things that do not correspond to the beliefs we believe in. You may also have been forced to do something even though there is actually an inner upheaval in living it. This condition is called cognitive dissonance, occurs when there is a discrepancy (dissonance) between two beliefs or values and creates discomfort. 

Cognitive Dissonance Definition

Cognitive dissonance is a term that refers to an uncomfortable mental state when facing two different beliefs or values. This condition also occurs when a person does things that are not in accordance with the values and beliefs they hold. The term cognitive dissonance was introduced as a theory by an expert named Leon Festinger in 1957.

The theory of cognitive dissonance centers on how a person strives to gain consistency and conformity in their attitudes and behaviors. According to Leon Festinger, conflicting or inappropriate beliefs can erase harmony within – a condition that people try to stay away from. This conflict of value that creates discomfort.

Incompatibility when experiencing cognitive dissonance makes a person will look for ways to reduce such discomfort.

The concept of cognitive dissonance has long been one of the most influential theories in the science of social psychology. This theory is also the subject of much research conducted by experts.

Read also:
Cognitive Psychology: Definition, History, Methods, and Benefits of Studying It

Cognitive dissonance history

The theory of cognitive dissonance is a very influential theory in the history of social psychology. This theory is a theory that was present when reinforcement theory dominated the social psychology research universe in the mid-1950s. Reinforcement theory is a theory formulated by psychologists that explains the phenomenon of social psychology through behavioristic approach.

As an illustration, reinforcement theorists explain that what is meant by conformity is an attempt by yourself not to feel anxious when fighting a majority group. The award is a sense of comfort to agree with the other party. Now, reinforcement theory experts explain that a credible source will be more persuasive because a credible source will appreciate the other party more.

With the development of cognitive dissonance theory formulated by Leon Festinger with his various researches, the new era became open to social psychology experts oriented on the cognitive side or cognitive flow. Some researchers then separated from the award-strengthening explanation and turned to cognitively oriented explanations due to the presence of cognitive dissonance theory.

This theory has inspired researchers to apply cognitive dissonance theory into various themes such as attitudes towards smo**king and others.

The theory of cognitive dissonance also inspires researchers from various disciplines, one of which is communication science. The impact of cognitive dissonance theory continued from the late 1950s to the 1970s. With the growing interest in cognitive processes such as information processes, the popularity of cognitive dissonance theory decreases (Camgoz, 2011).

Cognitive Dissonance Causes

Festinger (1957) mentions two common situations that cause dissonance, namely when new events or information occur and when an opinion or decision must be made, where the cognition of the action is different from the opinion or knowledge that leads to other actions. Furthermore, Festinger (1957) mentions four sources of dissonance from this situation, namely:

Logical inconsistency

Logical inconsistency, which is the logic of thinking that denies the logic of other thinking. For example, someone who believes that humans can reach the moon and also believes that humans cannot create tools that can help out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Cultural mores

Cultural mores, namely that the cognition that a person has in a culture is likely to differ in other cultures. For example, a Javanese who knows that eating by hand in his area is a natural thing, dissonance with the fact that it is not natural on the ethics of eating in British culture.

Opinion generality

Opinion generality, i.e. Dissonance may arise because of an opinion that is different from that of a public opinion. For example, a member of the Democratic party who is considered public will definitely support a candidate from the same party, apparently prefers a candidate from the Republican party who is an opponent of his party.

Past experience

Past experience, i.e. Dissonance will arise when a cognition is inconsistent with his past experience.
For example, a person who knows that when hit by rain will experience wet dissonance when one day he turns out to find himself not wet when he is hit by rain.

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Cognitive Dissonance: Definition, History, and 4 Causes

Post in | Last updated: December 13th, 2020 |