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Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance

Overview
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

s simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive
Drive theory
The terms drive theory and drive reduction theory refer to a diverse set of motivational theories in psychology. Drive theory is based on the principle that organisms are born with certain physiological needs and that a negative state of tension is created when these needs are not satisfied...

 to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. The phrase was coined by Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand.- Cognitive dissonance :...

, which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent beliefs.
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Encyclopedia
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

s simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive
Drive theory
The terms drive theory and drive reduction theory refer to a diverse set of motivational theories in psychology. Drive theory is based on the principle that organisms are born with certain physiological needs and that a negative state of tension is created when these needs are not satisfied...

 to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. The phrase was coined by Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand.- Cognitive dissonance :...

, which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent beliefs. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. A closely related term, cognitive disequilibrium, was coined by Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

 to refer to the experience of a discrepancy between something new and something already known or believed.

Experience can clash with expectations as, for example, with buyer's remorse
Buyer's remorse
Buyer's remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house...

 following the purchase of an expensive item. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. People are biased to think of their choices as correct, despite any contrary evidence. This bias gives dissonance theory its predictive power, shedding light on otherwise puzzling irrational and destructive behavior.

Examples


The most famous case in the early study of cognitive dissonance was described by Leon Festinger and others in the book When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand.- Cognitive dissonance :...

. The authors infiltrated a group that was expecting the imminent end of the world on a certain date. When that prediction failed, the movement did not disintegrate, but grew instead. By sharing cult beliefs with others, they gained acceptance and thus reduced their own dissonance (see further discussion below).

Smoking is often postulated as an example of cognitive dissonance because it is widely accepted that cigarettes can cause lung cancer; most people want to live long and healthy lives. In terms of the theory, the desire to live a long life is dissonant with the activity of doing something that will most likely shorten one's life. The tension produced by these contradictory ideas can be reduced by quitting smoking, denying the evidence linking smoking to lung cancer, or justifying one's smoking. For example, smokers could rationalize their behavior by concluding that only a few smokers become ill, that it only happens to very heavy smokers, or that if smoking does not kill them, something else will. While chemical addiction may operate in addition to cognitive dissonance for existing smokers, new smokers may exhibit a simpler case of the latter.

This case of dissonance could also be interpreted in terms of a threat to the self-concept. The thought, "I am increasing my risk of lung cancer" is dissonant with the self-related belief, "I am a smart, reasonable person who makes good decisions." Because it is often easier to make excuses than it is to change behavior, dissonance theory leads to the conclusion that humans are sometimes rationalizing
Rationalization (psychology)
In psychology and logic, rationalization is an unconscious defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are logically justified and explained in a rational or logical manner in order to avoid any true explanation and made consciously tolerable by plausible means...

 and not always rational
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 beings.

A classical example of this idea (and the origin of the expression "sour grapes
Sour grapes
The phrase sour grapes is an expression originating from "The Fox and the Grapes," one of Aesop's Fables. It refers to pretending not to care for something one does not or cannot have.Sour grapes may also refer to:-Music:...

") is expressed in the fable The Fox and the Grapes
The Fox and the Grapes
"The Fox and the Grapes" is one of the traditional Aesop's fables and can be held to illustrate the concept of cognitive dissonance. In this view, the premise of the fox that covets inaccessible grapes is taken to stand for a person who attempts to hold incompatible ideas simultaneously...

by Aesop
Aesop
Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables. Older spellings of his name have included Esop and Isope. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a...

 (ca. 620–564 BCE). In the story, a fox sees some high-hanging grapes and wishes to eat them. When the fox is unable to think of a way to reach them, he surmises that the grapes are probably not worth eating, as they must not be ripe or that they are sour. This example follows a pattern: one desires something, finds it unattainable, and reduces one's dissonance by criticizing it. Jon Elster
Jon Elster
Jon Elster is a Norwegian social and political theorist who has authored works in the philosophy of social science and rational choice theory...

 calls this pattern "adaptive preference formation".

Other related phenomena


There are a number of phenomena that relate to cognitive dissonance theory:
  • effort justification
    Effort justification
    Effort Justification is an idea and paradigm in social psychology stemming from Festinger's theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Effort justification is people's tendency to attribute a greater value to an outcome they had to put effort into acquiring or achieving.-Theory and research:Cognitive...

    , where working for something causes someone to like it more;
  • Self-evaluation maintenance theory
    Self-evaluation maintenance theory
    Self-evaluation maintenance theory refers to discrepancies between two people in a relationship. Two people in a relationship each aim to keep themselves feeling good psychologically throughout a comparison process to the other person. Self-evaluation is defined as the way a person views him/herself...

    , in which the skills or interests that define us can cause dissonance when they appear superior in others close to us;
  • counter-attitudinal advocacy, where behaviours supporting a dissonant attitude cause one to adopt that attitude;
  • post-decision dissonance, causing one to justify an unalterable decision as the right one - similar to buyer's remorse
    Buyer's remorse
    Buyer's remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house...

    ;
  • insufficient punishment, the practice of punishing a person without doing it so harshly that they can tell themselves "I still like the behaviour, but I avoid it because of the devastating punishment";
  • overjustification effect
    Overjustification effect
    The overjustification effect occurs when an external incentive such as money or prizes decreases a person's intrinsic motivation to perform a task. According to self-perception theory, people pay more attention to the incentive, and less attention to the enjoyment and satisfaction that they receive...

    , when an intrinsic (internal) motivation is shifted to extrinsic motivations through external reward;
  • balance theory
    Balance theory
    Balance Theory is a motivational theory of attitude change proposed by Fritz Heider, which conceptualizes the consistency motive as a drive toward psychological balance...

    , a general tendency to seek consonance between our views of others, and our views of their attitudes;
  • self-handicapping
    Self-handicapping
    Self-handicapping is the process by which people avoid effort in the hopes of keeping potential failure from hurting self-esteem. It was first theorized by Edward E...

    , avoiding effort in the hopes of keeping potential failure from hurting self-esteem;
  • Insufficient justification
    Insufficient justification
    Insufficient justification is a phenomenon under the realm of social psychology. It synthesizes theories of cognitive dissonance and internal vs. external justification. Essentially, insufficient justification is when an individual utilizes internal motivation to justify a behavior...

    , when an insufficient punishment is threatened for an avoided behavior, the behavior is deemed to be less desirable

Ben Franklin effect



One situation that may create dissonance is when someone does a favor for a person he dislikes. Here, the dissonance is between those negative feelings for the other person, and the awareness of having expended effort to help them. Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that people will try to resolve this dissonance by adopting a more positive attitude towards the other person. Several experiments have borne out this prediction. This has been named the Ben Franklin effect because it was anticipated by Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 when he served in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 18th Century. In his autobiography, he explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator:
Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death. This is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which says, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."


A counterpart to this effect is when someone's actions hurt another person, whom they regard positively or neutrally. In this case, one way to resolve the dissonance is to think more negatively about that person, so that they seem to deserve what happened to them.

Variants


An overarching principle of cognitive dissonance is that it involves the formation of an idea or emotion in conflict with a fundamental element of the self-concept
Self-concept
Self-concept is a multi-dimensional construct that refers to an individual's perception of "self" in relation to any number of characteristics, such as academics , gender roles and sexuality, racial identity, and many others. Each of these characteristics is a research domain Self-concept (also...

, such as "I am a successful/functional person", "I am a good person", or "I made the right decision." The anxiety that comes with the possibility of having made a bad decision can lead to rationalization
Rationalization (psychology)
In psychology and logic, rationalization is an unconscious defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are logically justified and explained in a rational or logical manner in order to avoid any true explanation and made consciously tolerable by plausible means...

, the tendency to create additional reasons or justifications to support one's choices. A person who just spent too much money on a new car might decide that the new vehicle is much less likely to break down than his or her old car. This belief may or may not be true, but it would reduce dissonance and make the person feel better. Dissonance can also lead to confirmation bias
Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue...

, the denial of dis-confirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms.

Within this overarching principle, there are two main forms of dissonance: hedonistic dissonance and moral dissonance (Holland, Meertens & Van-Vugt, 2002).
  • Hedonistic dissonance is elicited when people act in a way which results in negative consequences for themselves. For instance, a person is late for a meeting because of traffic but could have been on time had he taken the subway.
  • Moral dissonance is aroused when people act in a way that causes negative consequence for others. For instance, cheating and lying.

Theory and research


Most of the research on cognitive dissonance takes the form of one of four major paradigms. Important research generated by the theory has been concerned with the consequences of exposure to information inconsistent with a prior belief, what happens after individuals act in ways that are inconsistent with their prior attitudes, what happens after individuals make decisions, and the effects of effort expenditure.

The Belief Disconfirmation Paradigm


Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in misperception or rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others to restore consonance.

An early version of cognitive dissonance theory appeared in Leon Festinger's 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand.- Cognitive dissonance :...

. This book gave an inside account of the increasing belief which sometimes follows the failure of a cult's prophecy. The believers met at a pre-determined place and time, believing they alone would survive the Earth's destruction. The appointed time came and passed without incident. They faced acute cognitive dissonance: had they been the victim of a hoax? Had they donated their worldly possessions in vain? Most members chose to believe something less dissonant: the aliens had given earth a second chance, and the group was now empowered to spread the word: earth-spoiling must stop. The group dramatically increased their proselytism
Proselytism
Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion. The word proselytize is derived ultimately from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος...

 despite the failed prophecy.

The Induced-Compliance Paradigm


In Festinger and Carlsmith
Merrill Carlsmith
J. Merrill Carlsmith was an American social psychologist perhaps best known for his collaboration with Leon Festinger and Elliot Aronson in the creation and development of cognitive dissonance theory. He also worked extensively with Mark Lepper on the subject of attribution theory.-References:...

's classic 1959 experiment, students were asked to spend an hour on boring and tedious tasks (e.g., turning pegs a quarter turn, over and over again). The tasks were designed to generate a strong, negative attitude. Once the subjects had done this, the experimenters asked some of them to do a simple favor. They were asked to talk to another subject (actually an actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

) and persuade them that the tasks were interesting and engaging. Some participants were paid $20 (inflation adjusted to 2010, this equates to $150) for this favor, another group was paid $1 (or $7.50 in "2010 dollars"), and a control group was not asked to perform the favor.

When asked to rate the boring tasks at the conclusion of the study (not in the presence of the other "subject"), those in the $1 group rated them more positively than those in the $20 and control groups. This was explained by Festinger and Carlsmith as evidence for cognitive dissonance. The researchers theorized that people experienced dissonance between the conflicting cognitions, "I told someone that the task was interesting", and "I actually found it boring." When paid only $1, students were forced to internalize the attitude they were induced to express, because they had no other justification. Those in the $20 condition, however, had an obvious external justification for their behavior, and thus experienced less dissonance.

In subsequent experiments, an alternative method of inducing dissonance has become common. In this research, experimenters use counter-attitudinal essay-writing, in which people are paid varying amounts of money (e.g. $1 or $10) for writing essays expressing opinions contrary to their own. People paid only a small amount of money have less external justification for their inconsistency and must produce internal justification in order to reduce the high degree of dissonance that they are experiencing.

A variant of the induced-compliance paradigm is the forbidden toy paradigm. An experiment by Aronson
Elliot Aronson
Elliot Aronson is an American psychologist. He is listed among the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th Century, best known for the invention of the Jigsaw Classroom as a method of reducing interethnic hostility and prejudice; cognitive dissonance research, and influential social psychology...

 and Carlsmith in 1963 examined self-justification in children. In this experiment, children were left in a room with a variety of toys, including a highly desirable toy steam-shovel (or other toy). Upon leaving the room, the experimenter told half the children that there would be a severe punishment if they played with that particular toy and told the other half that there would be a mild punishment. All of the children in the study refrained from playing with the toy. Later, when the children were told that they could freely play with whatever toy they wanted, the ones in the mild punishment condition were less likely to play with the toy, even though the threat had been removed. The children who were only mildly threatened had to justify to themselves why they did not play with the toy. The degree of punishment by itself was not strong enough, so the children had to convince themselves that the toy was not worth playing with in order to resolve their dissonance.

The Free-Choice Paradigm


In a different type of experiment conducted by Jack Brehm, 225 female students rated a series of common appliances and were then allowed to choose one of two appliances to take home as a gift. A second round of ratings showed that the participants increased their ratings of the item they chose, and lowered their ratings of the rejected item. This can be explained in terms of cognitive dissonance. When making a difficult decision, there are always aspects of the rejected choice that one finds appealing and these features are dissonant with choosing something else. In other words, the cognition, "I chose X" is dissonant with the cognition, "There are some things I like about Y." More recent research has found similar results in four-year-old children and capuchin monkeys.

The Effort-Justification Paradigm


Dissonance is aroused whenever individuals voluntarily engage in an unpleasant activity to achieve some desired goal. Dissonance can be reduced by exaggerating the desirability of the goal. Aronson & Mills had individuals undergo a severe or mild "initiation" in order to become a member of a group. In the severe-initiation condition, the individuals engaged in an embarrassing activity. The group turned out to be very dull and boring. The individuals in the severe-initiation condition evaluated the group as more interesting than the individuals in the mild-initiation condition.

All of the above paradigms continue to be used in fruitful research.

Washing one's hands has been shown to eliminate post-decisional dissonance, presumably because the dissonance is often caused by moral disgust (with oneself) which is related to disgust from unsanitary conditions.

Challenges and qualifications


Daryl Bem
Daryl Bem
Daryl J. Bem is a social psychologist and professor emeritus at Cornell University. He is the originator of the self-perception theory of attitude change, and has carried out research on psi phenomena , group decision making, handwriting analysis, sexual orientation and personality theory and...

 was an early critic of cognitive dissonance theory. He proposed self-perception theory
Self-perception theory
Self-perception theory is an account of attitude change developed by psychologist Daryl Bem. It asserts that people develop their attitudes by observing their behaviour and concluding what attitudes must have caused them. The theory is counterintuitive in nature, as the conventional wisdom is that...

 as a more parsimonious alternative explanation of the experimental results. According to Bem, people do not think much about their attitudes, let alone whether they are in conflict. Bem interpreted people in the Festinger and Carlsmith study or the induced-compliance paradigm as inferring their attitudes from their behavior. Thus, when asked "Did you find the task interesting?" they decided that they must have found it interesting because that is what they told someone. Bem suggested that people paid $20 had a salient, external incentive for their behavior and were likely to perceive the money as their reason for saying the task was interesting, rather than concluding that they actually found it interesting.

In many experimental situations, Bem's theory and Festinger's dissonance theory make identical predictions, but only dissonance theory predicts the presence of unpleasant tension or arousal
Arousal
Arousal is a physiological and psychological state of being awake or reactive to stimuli. It involves the activation of the reticular activating system in the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of...

. Lab experiments have verified the presence of arousal in dissonance situations. This provides support for cognitive dissonance theory and makes it unlikely that self-perception by itself can account for all the laboratory findings.
In 1969, Elliot Aronson reformulated the theory by linking it to the self-concept
Self-concept
Self-concept is a multi-dimensional construct that refers to an individual's perception of "self" in relation to any number of characteristics, such as academics , gender roles and sexuality, racial identity, and many others. Each of these characteristics is a research domain Self-concept (also...

. According to this new interpretation, cognitive dissonance does not arise because people experience dissonance between conflicting cognitions. Instead, it occurs when people see their actions as conflicting with their normally positive view of themselves. Thus, about the original Festinger and Carlsmith study using the induced-compliance paradigm, Aronson stated that the dissonance was between the cognition, "I am an honest person" and the cognition, "I lied to someone about finding the task interesting." Other psychologists have argued that maintaining cognitive consistency is a way to protect public self-image, rather than private self-concept. However, a recent result seems to rule out such an explanation by showing revaluation of items following a choice even when people have forgotten their choices.

During the 1980s, Cooper and Fazio argued that dissonance was caused by aversive consequences, rather than inconsistency. According to this interpretation, the fact that lying is wrong and hurtful, not the inconsistency between cognitions, is what makes people feel bad. Subsequent research, however, found that people experience dissonance even when they feel they have not done anything wrong. For example, Harmon-Jones and colleagues showed that people experience dissonance even when the consequences of their statements are beneficial—as when they convince sexually active students to use condoms, when they, themselves are not using condoms.

Chen and colleagues have criticized the free-choice paradigm and have suggested that the "Rank, choice, rank" method of studying dissonance is invalid. They argue that research design relies on the assumption that, if the subject rates options differently in the second survey, then the subject's attitudes towards the options have therefore changed. They show that there are other reasons one might get different rankings in the second survey—perhaps the subjects were largely indifferent between choices. Although some follow-up studies have found supportive evidence for Chen's concerns, other studies that have controlled for Chen's concerns have not, instead suggesting that the mere act of making a choice can indeed change preferences. Nevertheless, this issue remains under active investigation.

Cognitive dissonance in the brain


Using fMRI, Van Veen and colleagues investigated the neural basis of cognitive dissonance in a modified version of the classic induced compliance paradigm. While in the scanner, participants "argued" that the uncomfortable MRI environment was nevertheless a pleasant experience. The researchers replicated the basic induced compliance findings; participants in an experimental group enjoyed the scanner more than participants in a control group who simply were paid to make their argument. Importantly, responding counter-attitudinally activated the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex
Anterior cingulate cortex
The anterior cingulate cortex is the frontal part of the cingulate cortex, that resembles a "collar" form around the corpus callosum, the fibrous bundle that relays neural signals between the right and left cerebral hemispheres of the brain...

 and the anterior insular cortex
Insular cortex
In each hemisphere of the mammalian brain the insular cortex is a portion of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe. The cortical area overlying it towards the lateral surface of the brain is the operculum...

; furthermore, the degree to which these regions were activated predicted individual participants' degree of attitude change. Van Veen and colleagues argue that these findings support the original dissonance theory by Festinger, and support the "conflict theory" of anterior cingulate functioning.

Using the free choice paradigm, Sharot and colleagues have shown that after making a choice, activity in the striatum
Striatum
The striatum, also known as the neostriatum or striate nucleus, is a subcortical part of the forebrain. It is the major input station of the basal ganglia system. The striatum, in turn, gets input from the cerebral cortex...

 changes to reflect the new evaluation of the choice object, increasing if the object was chosen and decreasing if it was rejected. Follow-up studies have largely confirmed these results.

Modeling in neural networks


Neural network
Neural network
The term neural network was traditionally used to refer to a network or circuit of biological neurons. The modern usage of the term often refers to artificial neural networks, which are composed of artificial neurons or nodes...

 models of cognition have provided the necessary framework to integrate the empirical research done on cognitive dissonance and attitudes into one model of explanation of attitude formation and change.

Various neural network models have been developed to predict how cognitive dissonance will influence an individual's attitude and behavior. These include:
  • Parallel Constraint Satisfaction Processes
    Parallel Constraint Satisfaction Processes
    Parallel Constraint Satisfaction Processes is a model that integrates the fastest growing research areas in the study of the mind; Connectionism, neural networks, and parallel distributed processing models.-Dynamic model of Attitude:...

  • The Meta-Cognitive Model (MCM) of attitudes
  • Adaptive connectionist model of cognitive dissonance
  • Attitudes as constraint satisfaction model

See also

  • Affective forecasting
    Affective forecasting
    Affective forecasting is the forecasting of one's affect in the future. This kind of prediction is affected by various kinds of cognitive biases, or systematic errors of thought also known as "empathy gap" and "impact bias"....

  • Antiprocess
    Antiprocess
    Antiprocess is the preemptive recognition and marginalization of undesired information by the interplay of mental defense mechanisms: the subconscious compromises information that would cause cognitive dissonance. It is often used to describe a difficulty encountered when people with sharply...

  • Buyer's remorse
    Buyer's remorse
    Buyer's remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house...

     is a form of post-decision dissonance.
  • Choice-supportive bias
    Choice-supportive bias
    In cognitive science, choice-supportive bias is the tendency to retroactively ascribe positive attributes to an option one has selected. It is a cognitive bias....

     is a memory bias that makes past choices seem better than they actually were.
  • Cognitive bias
    Cognitive bias
    A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable...

  • Cognitive distortion
    Cognitive distortion
    Cognitive distortions are exaggerated and irrational thoughts identified in cognitive therapy and its variants, which in theory perpetuate certain psychological disorders. The theory of cognitive distortions was first proposed by Aaron T. Beck. Eliminating these distortions and negative thoughts is...

  • Cognitive inertia
    Cognitive inertia
    Cognitive inertia refers the tendency for beliefs or sets of beliefs to endure once formed. In particular, cognitive inertia describes the human inclination to rely on familiar assumptions and exhibit a reluctance and/or inability to revise those assumptions, even when the evidence supporting them...

  • Congruence principle
    Congruence principle
    The term Congruence principle may refer to any undertaking that seeks to align apparently disparate things. Specifically, it may refer to:* In Economics, the principle of fiscal equivalence, ie, the false model in which the circle of buyers can be made to equate exactly with the circle of sellers.*...

  • Cultural dissonance
    Cultural dissonance
    Cultural dissonance is an uncomfortable sense of discord, disharmony, confusion, or conflict experienced by people in the midst of change in their cultural environment...

     is dissonance on a larger scale.
  • Double bind
    Double bind
    A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other , so that...

     is a communicative situation where a person receives different or contradictory messages.
  • Doublethink
    Doublethink
    Doublethink, a word coined by George Orwell in the novel 1984, describes the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts. It is related to, but distinct from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Its opposite is cognitive dissonance, where...

     is a concept present in George Orwell
    George Orwell
    Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

    's Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

     that allows a person to hold two contradictory ideas simultaneously and accept both of them as correct.
  • Effort justification
    Effort justification
    Effort Justification is an idea and paradigm in social psychology stemming from Festinger's theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Effort justification is people's tendency to attribute a greater value to an outcome they had to put effort into acquiring or achieving.-Theory and research:Cognitive...

     is the tendency to attribute a greater (than objective) value to an outcome which demands a great effort in order to resolve a dissonance.
  • Emotional conflict
    Emotional conflict
    "Emotional conflicts and the intervention of the unconscious are the classical features of...medical psychology" for C. G. Jung. Equally, 'Freud's concept of emotional conflict as amplified by Anna Freud...Erikson and others is central in contemporary theories of mental disorder in children,...

     is the presence in the subconscious of different and opposing emotions concerning the same situation.
  • The Great Disappointment
    Great Disappointment
    The Great Disappointment was a major event in the history of the Millerite movement, a 19th-century American Christian sect that formed out of the Second Great Awakening. Based on his interpretations of the prophecies in the book of Daniel The Great Disappointment was a major event in the history...

     of 1844 is an example of cognitive dissonance in a religious context.
  • Illusion-of-truth effect states that a person is more likely to believe a familiar statement than an unfamiliar one.
  • Information overload
    Information overload
    "Information overload" is a term popularized by Alvin Toffler in his bestselling 1970 book Future Shock. It refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence of too much information...

  • Shame
    Shame
    Shame is, variously, an affect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning to cover; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame....

  • Speciesism
    Speciesism
    Speciesism is the assigning of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership. The term was created by British psychologist Richard D...

  • True-believer syndrome
    True-believer syndrome
    True-believer syndrome is an informal or rhetorical term coined by M. Lamar Keene in his 1976 book The Psychic Mafia. Keene used the term to refer to people who continued to believe in a paranormal event or phenomenon even after it had been proven to have been staged...

     demonstrates carrying a post-cognitive-dissonance belief regardless of new information.
  • Wishful thinking
    Wishful thinking
    Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality or reality...


Further reading

  • Cooper, J. (2007). Cognitive dissonance: 50 years of a classic theory. London: Sage publications.
  • Harmon-Jones, E., & J. Mills. (Eds.) (1999). Cognitive Dissonance: Progress on a Pivotal Theory in Social Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

External links