Cognitive dissonance theory examples

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Cognitive dissonance theory examples

Before i can give examples of the Cognitive dissonance theory i first have to explain what Cognitive dissonance means.

A cognition can be considered a belief. If you like to smoke then this can be considered a cognition. If you like ice cream then this is another cognition. Those two beliefs are not related to each other but if one of them became dissonant with the other then according to the Cognitive dissonance theory Cognitive dissonance will happen.

For example if you like to smoke but you know that smoking is harmful then that would result in Cognitive dissonance. The Cognitive dissonance theory states that when two cognitions become dissonant Cognitive dissonance happens.

In this article i will tell you some examples of the Cognitive dissonance theory.

Examples of the Cognitive dissonance theory

Here are some examples of the Cognitive dissonance theory:

  • Example 1: Knowing that smoking is harmful (First cognition) while liking to smoke (second cognition). The Cognitive dissonance theory's conditions were met because those cognitions are dissonant
  • Example 2: Believing that lying is bad (First cognition) and being forced to lie (second cognition)
  • Example 3: Liking a friend (first cognition) while knowing that he hates your brother (second cognition)

As you can see all of these cognitions conflict with each other thus cause discomfort or Cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance theory and adaption

People adapt to Cognitive dissonance in different ways. For example a person might adapt by creating a new cognition, a second may adapt by changing his attitude and a third may adapt by changing his behavior. In the next few lines i will give some examples for adaptation according to the Cognitive dissonance theory based on the previous three examples.

  • Example 1: In such a case a person could create a new cognition by claiming that lots of old people smoke since they were young and they are still healthy
  • Example 2: In this case the person might change his behavior by not lying or even change his attitude by claiming that he believes in the lie
  • Example 3: In such a case the person can claim that his friend doesn't like his brother because he didn't have time to know him well.

As you just saw in the previous examples the Cognitive dissonance theory explains many of our irrational beliefs and unwanted behavior.

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