Are you having problems with your significant other because of psychological conflict? This conflict may be a sign of cognitive dissonance. It is common in every relationship, but most people are not aware of it.
If you want to know more about cognitive dissonance and how you can manage it, read on.
The word “cognitive” relates to conscious intellectual activities like thinking, remembering, and reasoning. On the other hand, dissonance refers to the lack of agreement.
Social psychologist Leon Festinger first introduced the Cognitive Dissonance Theory (CDT) in 1957. It refers to the discomfort in maintaining consistency between two thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and values. We struggle once we find conflict within these multiple cognitions.
So, what is the connection of cognitive dissonance to relationships?
Your current significant other may not be your ideal partner, but you accept them for who they are and stay in the relationship. Another example is when your partner does things you’re not fond of, but you try to compromise with them.
When these things happen, you have a conflict between your cognition and your partner’s. That is cognitive dissonance.
Moreover, cognitive dissonance may lead to infidelity. There may be a discrepancy in a person’s self-concept, leading them to cheat even if they believe they are loyal and faithful. When this happens, they experience psychological discomfort, affecting their thoughts and feelings.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy where you talk to your therapist regarding your thoughts, feelings, and conflicts. This therapy aids in resolving disagreements in relationships, among many issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help if you struggle with opening up about your feelings.
You should always consult an expert—your mental health provider, for advice. They can recommend any treatment, like therapies, they deem helpful for you.
Below are some frequently asked questions about cognitive dissonance.
What is cognitive dissonance therapy?
If the consequences of cognitive dissonance have become too severe, you can seek the help of a therapist. You might discover that specific thoughts are influencing your behavior for the worse.
Your therapist will work with you to untangle the web of beliefs and ideas you may have about a situation. Once you recognize the disparity between your thoughts and behavior, it becomes easier to resolve it.
Why is cognitive dissonance bad?
Cognitive dissonance is not always harmful. But if your behavior is not aligned with your core values, you may experience intense feelings. It may include feelings of shame, guilt, and stress. These emotions can negatively affect your self-esteem and interpersonal relationships.
As a result, you might engage in maladaptive behaviors to reconcile the contradictions.
Is cognitive dissonance a disorder?
No, but it can cause emotional distress and harmful behaviors. People may deliberately avoid information that does not conform to their beliefs. They may also refuse a healthy debate to resolve the conflict. In some cases, cognitive dissonance can strain relationships and prevent self-growth.
What is cognitive dissonance in relationships?
It refers to the dissonance that arises when your partner’s beliefs or behaviors may not align with your own. Your partner may have different views on mundane things. But you need to be on the same boat when it comes to planning your future.
You may choose to have an in-depth conversation to resolve the cognitive dissonance or make compromises.
What are the 4 types of relationships?
The four types of interpersonal relationships are between families, friends, acquaintances, and romantic partners. Relationships are bonds between two or more people. It can be long-lasting or short-lived. The duration depends on the commitment of those involved to maintain the relationship.
What are some examples of cognitive dissonance?
A person may experience cognitive dissonance due to inherited beliefs about themselves and the world. One example is smokers and alcoholics justifying their harmful habits.
Another example is when a person is taught that being gay is a sin. They might experience cognitive dissonance when the person then identifies as a member of the said community. It can also come in the form of acquired biases or misconceptions about minority groups.
How do you break cognitive dissonance?
It might be impossible to eliminate cognitive dissonance. However, you can reduce the resulting mental tension by changing your behavior.
You can also alter your beliefs so that they are in accordance with your actions. It might be uncomfortable, but you may have to unlearn and relearn particular ideas that may not be relevant anymore.
How do you recognize cognitive dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is when you feel conflicted over something but do not know how to move forward. It might be hard to recognize it at the onset, but you can take a step back to ask why you feel conflicted.
Pay close attention to the thoughts, feelings, and ideas you have about a situation. For severe cases of cognitive dissonance, it’s best to seek professional help.
How does cognitive dissonance lead to an attitude change?
To reduce cognitive dissonance, a person may:
- Change their existing beliefs,
- Acquire new information that supports their belief, or
- Reduce the importance of said beliefs.
A person seeking to sustain their smoking habit can refuse to believe that smoking is harmful. They may also seek out information that confirms their belief. They may even adopt a belief that the short-term benefits of smoking outweigh the long-term consequences.
How does cognitive dissonance affect workplace behavior?
It varies depending on their beliefs and behaviors. But then, cognitive dissonance can affect employee performance and work relationships. For instance, an employee may discover that the company has questionable practices that do not align with his values. To reduce the tension, they may justify unethical behavior.
At the same time, there is also a tendency to make excessive rationalizations. They may lose motivation to perform their job. It is also possible to experience heightened workplace stress that can affect their productivity.
Why does cognitive dissonance occur?
Cognitive dissonance occurs due to discrepancies between a person’s beliefs and actions or their beliefs and values. It’s not always possible to act in strict accordance with our beliefs all the time. Cognitive dissonance is a necessary component of a child’s learning process.
What is an example of dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is when a person knows that smoking is harmful to their health but keeps on doing it anyway. Another example is when you keep making excuses to put off exercise even though you’re aware of its many health benefits.
How does cognitive dissonance operate in everyday life?
Cognitive dissonance is not always blatant. It usually comes in the form of everyday excuses we make in life. From missing an exercise day or justifying a “white lie,” we sometimes think or do things that contradict our values. The tension depends on how severe the contradiction is.
What is cognitive conflict?
Cognitive conflict is another term for cognitive dissonance. When a person gets information contradictory to their existing beliefs or ideas—cognitive conflict results in disequilibrium.
What does dissonance mean?
Put merely, dissonance means divergence or lack of agreement between two things. In psychology, cognitive dissonance refers to a mental conflict that happens when a person’s beliefs and behaviors do not match.
Remember that you can experience cognitive dissonance regularly. You will encounter it with your partner every day. Conflicts may arise even in the simplest things, such as deciding on a meal or a date.
Cognitive dissonance plays a huge role in relationships. It exists in infidelity and abusive relationships. However, cognitive dissonance will not always cause crucial problems in your relationships or daily life.
Therapies are proven to be effective treatments for any psychological condition, including cognitive dissonance. Do not hesitate to invest in caring for your mental health because it will help you in many ways. It can resolve current conflicts and prevent future problems.
You have to find the right therapist to help you deal with your cognitive conflicts. It is essential that you feel comfortable in sharing your feelings with them. Do not worry, though, because therapists are experts in making sure their patients feel safe with them.
However, you also have to do your part in the therapy. Be active and always be honest in talking about your feelings or experiences. Your mental health provider can help you better if they know you better. Every piece of information you tell them can play a crucial role in your progress.
You have to remember that psychological treatments do not give instant results. Be patient and cooperate with your therapist. Do not skip sessions because it may affect your progress.
If your partner is not fond of going to therapy, you can go by yourself. However, you have to know that the progress will not be as efficient as when attending together.
If you are undergoing couple’s therapy, your therapist may give you communication exercises at home. These exercises will help you resolve your conflicts better.
Communication is essential in relationships. Good communication between partners leads to healthy relationships. Talk about your struggles together with the help of a counselor.