Cognitive Dissonance



    • The Term was in the News. It is important for the Paper IV of the General Studies of UPSC.

    What is Cognitive Dissonance?

    • About:
      • The cognitive dissonance theory was one of the most influential theories in social psychology first proposed by Leon Festinger in his book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance in 1957
      • Cognitive dissonance theory explains how individuals or groups rationalise their support and belief toward different religions, cults or political parties, partially blinding themselves to reduce the contradictions between their thoughts and behaviour.
      • Theory proposes that inconsistency between one’s thoughts and  behaviours would lead to an uncomfortable psychological or emotional tension (Cognitive Dissonance).
    • Example:
      • You know that smoking (or drinking too much) is harmful to your health, but you do it anyway. You rationalize this action by pointing to your high stress levels.
      • An IPS officer believes in non-violence but takes the decision to opt for Lathi Charge to disperse the crowd mostly faces Cognitive dissonance.
    • Resolving dissonance
      • Festinger explained that there were different ways in which individuals or groups resolved cognitive dissonance to best suit their situations.
      • Either by changing one’s thoughts, changing one’s behaviour to match one’s thoughts, adding a thought to justify the behaviour or trivialise the inconsistency between thoughts and behaviour.
      • In most cases, people tend to justify their behaviour by either adding consonant elements or negating contradictory or inconsistent thoughts. This is because it is easier to change one’s thoughts than to introspect and question one’s belief system.

    Source: TH