Cognitive Dissonance and How We Treat Animals Grades 6-12

We consider ourselves to be truthful, hard-working, health-conscious, and in control. But our actions don’t always line up with what we think of ourselves. This is all about striving for integrity, working hard to have your actions line up with the kind of person that you want to be. Integrity is the source of self-respect and, in my opinion, essential for fighting depression and anxiety. We usually don’t need reasons when we know we’re doing the right thing. I once heard a clinical psychologist whose responsibility was to determine whether inmates were not responsible for their crimes due to a mental inability to understand guilt, right, and wrong.

Cognitive dissonance is a well-researched psychological phenomenon. It occurs in all of us frequently, not just when planning to diet and justifying a doughnut with a delayed diet start. This offers opportunities to discuss the discrepancies, deepen the relationship, and re-align values.


The full text can be requested from the authors free of charge via the ResearchGate website. Cognitive dissonance was measured indirectly by asking participants about changes in their opinion about how enjoyable the task was following the experiment. Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) conducted one of the first studies examining cognitive dissonance. cognitive dissonance treatment A good example is the prospect of embarrassing ourselves in front of others, such as by forgetting our words during a speech. However, after further thought, we may decide that it does not matter what others think of us and can thus reduce the dissonance. The next step is to identify the cause of inconsistencies in our thoughts.

You can also lessen the chances of dissonance beginning in the first place if you practice being mindful, Noulas says. So, for instance, when conflict or tension arises, take the time to pause and think through your situation and your feelings. “It’s important to be in touch with your own value system and know when your thinking is being driven by emotions,” says Corrine Leikam, PsyD, an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Doing some soul searching to determine the areas of your life where contradiction exists can shed light on areas you may need to work on. Maybe you always expect your friends to be prompt when you have dinner plans, but you’re usually 10 minutes late yourself.

The effect of effort and improvisation on self-persuasion produced by role playing

According to this theory, cognitive dissonance describes the discomfort experienced when two cognitions are incompatible with each other. If you are finding yourself stuck in a situation where your beliefs and behaviors or life circumstances are in misalignment, speaking to a therapist can be extremely helpful. Sometimes just having a professional outside the situation to bounce your ideas and feelings off of, can help you see with more clarity how to rectify the situation. Perhaps the most common example of cognitive dissonance is a person who smokes.

These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into Positive CBT and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.

Cognitive dissonance: What to know

This book includes examples of cognitive dissonance in today’s world. Since cognitive dissonance often naturally occurs after a decision such as a purchase, this is what questionnaires have focused on. They further presupposed that participants would be driven to reduce the dissonance by justifying their behavior. Since participants in the $20 condition had a more substantial justification (higher pay) already, they were further assumed to perceive less dissonance than those in the $1 condition.

Anything that sets up an inner conflict between two concepts or behaviors can cause cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance theory states that related thoughts or behaviors can be consonant (in agreement) or dissonant (in conflict). Avoiding, delegitimizing, and limiting the impact of cognitive dissonance may result in a person not acknowledging their behavior and thus not taking steps to resolve the dissonance. It is not possible to observe dissonance, as it is something a person feels internally. As such, there is no set of external signs that can reliably indicate a person is experiencing cognitive dissonance.

Change Our Thinking to Line Up With Our Behavior

Festinger proposed that the greater the discomfort, the greater the desire to reduce the dissonance of the two cognitive elements” (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). Dissonance theory suggests that if individuals act in ways that contradict their beliefs, then they typically will change their beliefs to align with their actions (or vice-a-versa). Two therapy analog studies attempted to clarify previous ambiguities about whether cognitive dissonance reduction can contribute to improvement in psychotherapy. Snake phobics anticipated undertaking a procedure either high or low in effort; decision freedom for engaging in the effort was also varied (high vs low).

cognitive dissonance treatment

Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, or when your actions contradict your values. Hypocrisy is the voluntary action involved when behaviors contradict beliefs or words, and cognitive dissonance is the unsettling feeling of mental discomfort resulting from this contradiction. Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling that results from finding out new information that contradicts what is already known about a situation. This discomfort also happens when someone’s behavior doesn’t match reality or facts. Signs of cognitive dissonance include tense emotions after getting new information, denying reality, hypocritical behavior, isolating others who don’t comply with an untruth, and avoiding the reality of a situation overall. People experience cognitive dissonance for many reasons, but a common trigger is work.

Induce effort

The regions that allow us to think and make decisions effectively have been damaged. They tend to modify their thought processes to support their cravings and addictive behavior, in order for them to feel or assure themselves that their choices or how they are acting is more favorable than it actually is. The term cognitive dissonance was first coined in 1957 by Psychologist Leon Festinger. When one’s beliefs become inconsistent or conflicting, this leads to disharmony and conflict, which is what most people try to avoid. When a person always has a rational explanation for their irrational behavior, this is known in psychology as the cognitive dissonance theory. Discrepancy between an attitude and a behavior – eating a doughnut while thinking of reducing calorie intake – leads to psychological discomfort called cognitive dissonance (Harmon-Jones, 2019).