Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that states the condition of an individual in turmoil. Such a state appears when there are two conflicts contradicting each other in mind. The conflicts can either be actions that are opposite to your beliefs or against what you perceive as your attitude. A person going through cognitive dissonance would identify a logical inconsistency between the conflicting thoughts. In this paper, we shall discuss a personal experience that can be interpreted in terms of cognitive dissonance. We shall identify the type of dissonance experienced. Moreover, we shall also describe a social experiment to elucidate the conflicts experienced.
We experience cognitive dissonance in our everyday life. Sometimes we do not even recognize the feeling we go through. My personal experience which clearly fits the definition of cognitive dissonance is one I had with my peers at college. In a society, we associate with the other members on the basis of bondage and expectations. I believe when we are clearly aware of all the facts and the basis of the relationships then we make it our firm belief to keep our beliefs very strong. A friend of mine shared her plans that were about to be laid by her for her success at work. She told me her secrets based on our bondage. This was my strong belief to keep her secrets hidden and not to tell anyone else about it. But due to the fear of lagging behind, I revealed her plans to one of my colleagues. My action against my belief had put me in a state of cognitive dissonance.
I had certain options that clanked my mind the first time when I was about to reveal her secrets to a colleague. At first, I valued the bondage by thinking I should value her trust and should not share this with the third party. Soon another thought clanked my mind that I should be practical enough to handle the situation. In this way, I thought of my integrity and put forward the idea of revealing my friend’s secret. This was the cognitive dissonance experienced at the very first level. My act of revealing her secrets to someone else is the second conflicting cognition. I sometimes try to justify my action by explaining to myself that it was for my own benefits and self-esteem but somewhere I know that I have acted against my belief. My action against my belief is the decrease in dissonance. Later on, after few weeks I experienced repentances within me that I went against my belief. The strength of the dissonance is always too strong that it takes your change your way either in positive attribute or negative attribute. The kind of dissonance experienced by me is choice justification. The negative arousal which I have been through was reduced by the justification of the choice. Therefore, there is a linkage between negative arousal and choice justification (Aronson, Wilson & Akert, 2006).
Festinger and Carlsmith’s experiment is closest to my experience of doing against my belief. In this experiment, students were asked to participate in an experiment that was boring. But they were told that the experiment was interesting. These students had to rate the experiment positively against their will. But soon when the experiment’s mechanism became easy to understand for students then they began to make a positive view regarding the experiment (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2006).
Hence on the basis of the personal experience and a brief description of cognitive dissonance, we can conclude that Cognitive dissonance can be reduced through the addition of cognition into the contradicting cognitions.
Aronson, E., Wilson, T. & Akert, R. (2006). Study Guide for Social Psychology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.