This theory proposed that people attempt to maintain consistency among their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. According to this theory, a motivational state termed cognitive dissonance is produced whenever beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours are inconsistent. Cognitive dissonance is considered to be an aversive state that triggers mechanisms to bring cognitions back into a consistent relationship with one another. Much of the research on cognitive dissonance has centred around what happens when attitudes and behaviours are inconsistent. This research suggests that behavior inconsistent with one’s beliefs—if there is insufficient justification for the behaviour—will often bring about modification of those beliefs.

Following the choice, each of the negative elements of the selected option and the favorable characteristics of the rejected alternative is discordant with the decision. On the other hand, the decision is consistent with each of the selected option’s good elements, and the rejected alternative’s bad aspects. Difficult decisions should elicit more dissonance than easy decisions because a difficult decision will result in a higher proportion of discordant cognitions than an easy one. As a result, there will be more desirable to alleviate cognitive dissonance following a tough decision. Dissonance after a choice can be decreased by eliminating negative characteristics of the selected option, adding good aspects to the rejected alternative, or adding negative aspects to the chosen alternative or positive aspects to the rejected alternative.

Predictive dissonance model

These eLearning activities also help online learners see the repercussions of their actions and identify the root cause of the problem. If they discover that their actions are creating a conflict, for example, they have the opportunity to learn a better approach. Your initial attitude led to you acting in a way that then caused cognitive dissonance.

Is cognitive dissonance a motivation theory?

Cognitive dissonance is purported to be a powerful motivator for change. People find consistency comfortable and prefer to be consistent in their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, values, attitudes, and actions. When inconsistency exists, an individual feels an imbalance or dissonance.

For example, people might be more willing to help an innocent victim who represents an isolated case rather than one of many such cases, perhaps because help in the latter situation is viewed as less effective at alleviating injustice (Miller, 1977; see also Kogut, 2011). Similarly, people might be more likely to help if aid is not so personally costly as to make them victims of injustice in the process (see Holmes, Miller, & Lerner, 2002). The use of the Internet offers the additional benefit of enabling both a universal and targeted program as initial activities can include screening for risk factors and tailoring the subsequent content. For example, ‘Student Bodies’ is an 8-week psycho-educational eating disorder prevention program that was developed in the United States and trialed among female adolescents (mean age 15.1 years) and their parents.

Modeling in neural networks

Also, to capture fine variations with lower noise and to be able to modelize the process, these requirements suggest movement toward lower level processes. It could require to look at the very minimal prerequisite for CDT, that is to manipulate inconsistency while the other socially contextualized variables are reduced to their strict minimal (e.g., commitment). Finally, in accordance with the operationalization issue, one of the first thing to assess is probably inconsistency, which could permit more relevant comparisons between studies and help to correct local or individual biases.

Resolving dissonance can help to prevent making bad choices and encourage good ones. Therefore, the brain is an inference machine that attempts to actively predict and explain its sensations. The predictive dissonance account proposes that the motivation for cognitive dissonance reduction is related to an organism’s active drive for reducing prediction error. Moreover, it proposes that human (and cognitive dissonance theory perhaps other animal) brains have evolved to selectively ignore contradictory information (as proposed by dissonance theory) to prevent the overfitting of their predictive cognitive models to local and thus non-generalizing conditions. The predictive dissonance account is highly compatible with the action-motivation model since, in practice, prediction error can arise from unsuccessful behavior.

What Influences Cognitive Dissonance?

A scientist generally does not design an experiment from the perspective of two contradictory theories. This is simply because it even though it may be analytically feasible, it makes very little pragmatic sense. As Polanyi (1958) writes, we can only encounter the scientific world successfully by “dwelling” in or embodying a theory and attending to the world from it, and one theoretical perspective is generally complex enough to satisfice for practical purposes. Predictive hypotheses, in science and in everyday life, primarily guide action, and unnecessary dissonance or error between contradictory actions should generally be eliminated to guide smooth and uninterrupted behavior. Second, a PP take on CD can, I argue, further enlighten recent developments in “action-based” dissonance studies (Harmon-Jones et al., 2015) and help us understand some of the evolutionary underpinnings of CD.

  • As a result, they experience intense anxiety or a state of tension or other physiological symptoms which indicate that there is a change in the inner system.
  • For instance, as the amount of cognitions which justify dissonance-inducing behavior increase, the magnitude of dissonance (“D” divided by “D plus C”) is reduced.
  • A general theme of that work was that humans often bring about problems unwittingly, as a result of intellectual and creative talents—for example, creating new technologies without being fully able to foresee their long-term consequences.
  • When external circumstances lead someone to perform an action they would not normally do, that can cause cognitive dissonance.
  • Thus, in the example above, self-perception theory would argue that the person, in observing his own behaviour, assesses the effort involved and decides that the initiation was endured because he really wanted to be a member of this group.

As with most theories in social psychology, location and culture are crucial factors in the results of an experiment. Cognitive dissonance is when a person has two contradicting beliefs leading them to become distressed and motivated to reach consonance again. In order to reach stability a person will either change their beliefs, behaviors or add new beliefs. According to cognitive dissonance, people will avoid anything that increases dissonance for them. People are most comfortable at a stable state and anything that disrupts this causes a great deal of stress, so avoidance or changes are made to get back to consonance.

Q2: What are cognitive dissonance theory examples?

“Cognitive Dissonance Theory Paradigm and Its Resolution.” PsychologyWriting, 29 Jan. 2022, This nasty, mysterious virus will require us all to change our minds as scientists learn more, and we may have to give up some practices and beliefs about it that we now feel sure of. The alternative will be to double down, ignore the error, and wait, as Trump is waiting, for the “miracle” of the virus disappearing.

cognitive dissonance theory

In the hierarchical PP framework, the recruitment of high-level predictions can explain prediction errors away and effectively tell the upstream-flowing error units to “shut up” (Friston, 2005, p. 829; also Clark, 2016, p. 38). Therefore, lower level inputs which are well predicted by some higher level predictive model are “quashed” or “explained away” (Clark, 2016, p. 60). Moreover, PP proposes that conversely, by increasing attention, the gain of error units can be increased. This leads to the boosting of prediction error signals which are deemed reliable, which in turn inform (or update) the predictive generative model, resulting in a very basic form of Bayesian learning.

After all, any PP organism will seek to reduce long-term prediction error, so it is perhaps little surprise that cognitive phenomena such as dissonance are found in other species. The “origin” of the psychological sensation of dissonance, from the PP perspective, would then be its role in motivating prediction error reduction in the long term. Such a strategy implies not learning from just any discrepancies between cognitive elements, since this would be suspect to overfitting. Therefore, even when dissonance leads to a seemingly arbitrary conservation of a high-level prediction (e.g., not learning from prediction error due to self-justification or arbitrary attitude change), this does not entail that it is entirely irrational. The predictive brain, as Clark (2016, Ch. 8) amusingly writes, is after all quite “lazy,” but this might not be a fault as much as it is a necessity. Concluding this section, PP seems to have potential to be informative for the future development of CD theory.

In fact, it is a psychological mechanism that helps us perceive our world (and our place in it) consistently. It is a mechanism that alerts us when we are not acting in line with our beliefs, attitudes, or plans. That slight feeling of discomfort we perceive when noticing this mismatch is called cognitive dissonance. Alternatively, they may reduce cognitive dissonance by being mindful of their values and pursuing opportunities to live those values.

Dissonance Approaches

Since cognitive dissonance often naturally occurs after a decision such as a purchase, this is what questionnaires have focused on. We may perceive dissonance when we engage in a new behavior (e.g., when we decline an invitation to an event we usually attend in order to protect our leisure time). While this can feel uncomfortable at first, it’s helpful to reflect on the reasons behind our behavior.

  • Although there are several varieties of these theories, most have in common the idea that human behaviour is at least partially motivated by a need to become as much as one can possibly become.
  • People commonly experience changes in attitudes and mental health as a result of disharmony.
  • This approach intersects nicely with models of interactive and student-centered learning as well as fitting with the principles of developing media literacy, making it a good fit for the school setting.