What Is Cognitive Dissonance? Definition and Examples

To reduce cognitive dissonance, individuals should seek accountability and support, challenge their distorted reasoning, and be open to absorbing new information. Taking steps to address cognitive dissonance is crucial in the recovery process and in managing addiction. Examples of cognitive dissonance in addiction include viewing non-abusers as boring, believing substance abuse is a sign of artistic life, and dismissing warnings about the dangers of substance abuse as propaganda. When you work hard for something, you want to believe all that effort is worth it. But when the results don’t meet your expectations, you will likely experience feelings of cognitive dissonance. After living with cognitive dissonance for so long, it will take you some effort to break those thought patterns and concentrate on your newly healthy lifestyle.

  • They may resist information or treatment that challenges their beliefs or habits, perpetuating a cycle of continued addiction.
  • The effects of prenatal tobacco exposure are particularly concerning because so many expectant mothers smoke—by one estimate, over 10 percent in the United States (Hamilton et al., 2007).
  • The brain regions and neural processes that underlie addiction overlap extensively with those that support cognitive functions, including learning, memory, and reasoning.
  • But when these beliefs don’t match up to what we experience, it can leave us feeling uncomfortable and unsure.

Addiction as Justifying the Unjustifiable

When things are psychologically unbalanced, it creates discomfort and distress. When you discover new information and you’re faced with the uncomfortable decision to … well, make decisions, embrace a positive outlook. Sometimes, new information leads to cognitive dissonance, but that also allows you to take new actions you may not have thought about taking before.

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  • The great social psychologist Festinger coined the term cognitive dissonance.
  • This process allows individuals to minimize cognitive dissonance by justifying or denying the negative aspects of their addictive behaviors.
  • Patients are taught to identify NATs by recording their thoughts as they occur using self-monitoring and to generate alternative responses using the Socratic dialogue.
  • Breaking free from addiction and resolving cognitive dissonance often necessitate professional guidance.
  • It is believed that part of the reason for why these people can act so irrationally is cognitive dissonance.
  • Your behavior contradicts not just the beliefs you have about the world, but also the beliefs that you have about yourself.

Treatment options for individuals experiencing cognitive dissonance in addiction include therapy, residential treatment programs, and intervention planning services. One-on-one therapy is particularly effective in addressing cognitive dissonance and helping individuals shift their beliefs and behaviors. This emerging topic in addiction recovery underscores the profound influence of cognitive dissonance on mental health and emphasizes the need for tailored interventions. Before we tackle how to reduce cognitive dissonance, we need to understand what exactly causes it. In most cases, a mismatch between a person’s beliefs and behaviors induces these uncomfortable feelings.

Addiction and Cognition

Francis Bacon’s ‘Painting, 1946,’ at MoMA, foretold our current moment of brute power and addiction to spectacle. – The Washington Post

Francis Bacon’s ‘Painting, 1946,’ at MoMA, foretold our current moment of brute power and addiction to spectacle..

Posted: Wed, 06 Jan 2021 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Therapists, support groups, and treatment programs can offer the necessary support, understanding, and strategies to cope with cognitive dissonance and achieve long-term recovery. The great social psychologist Festinger coined the term cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance results from a tension between a desire and a belief. The discomfort (dissonance) motivates individuals to decrease the inconsistency between one’s wishes and beliefs.

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cognitive dissonance and addiction

Cognitive bias is the tendency to process information in the light of our own experiences. Our brains rely on patterns, past experiences, and mental shortcuts to process information quickly. That means that when we take in new information, we don’t interpret it objectively. To live an cognitive dissonance and addiction authentic life, you need to be able to recognize when you’re compensating for incongruence. From there, you can make positive changes that help you live according to your true values. Before they went on stage, they were told to think of a time when they didn’t exhibit that behavior.

In both examples, the reactions show that they are justifying their irrational behavior. These ideas will shape how they perceive and judge the world, and it would not be possible to live without them and still be able to function. Sometimes the individual can hold beliefs and opinions that are contradictory or that contradicts their behaviour. For example, a person may believe that drinking too much alcohol is bad, but they still continue to indulge in this behaviour.

The presence of cognitive dissonance can have a significant impact on decision-making. When individuals experience this discomfort, they are motivated to alleviate it by rationalizing their behavior or downplaying conflicting thoughts. This often leads to justifying addictive behaviors and minimizing the negative consequences they have. Cognitive dissonance motivates individuals to align their attitudes or behaviors with their existing beliefs.

How does cognitive dissonance affect the recovery process for addicts?

  • Research shows that justifications give people the impression that they made a careful decision.
  • The effects may relate to the discomfort of the dissonance itself or the defense mechanisms a person adopts to deal with it.
  • The fortunate ones eventually see through their denial and decide that they have had enough.
  • The degree of dissonance experienced can depend on a few different factors.

His wife brought him for treatment and he was not keen on taking help He did not believe it was a problem (stage of change). He believed that drinking helped him across many domains of life (positive outcome expectancies regarding alcohol use and its effects, stage of change). Their study included 306 young women with eating disorders and food issues.

cognitive dissonance and addiction

Adolescent Exposure

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a person holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time. Neuroscience research with animals is elucidating how the brain constructs and maintains the neural networks https://ecosoberhouse.com/ that support learning. One process identified, long-term potentiation (LTP), has features that parallel key aspects of learning. Neuroscience research has correlated learning with the elaboration of neural networks in the brain.