Effort Justification

Dissonance can affect the way people act, think, and make decisions. Dissonance usually occurs when people are encouraged or forced to behave in ways that are inconsistent with their beliefs and views. When conflicts arise between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people take action to reduce dissonance and discomfort. [Sources: 7, 10]

Changing the perception of conflict is one of the most effective ways to deal with disharmony, but it is also one of the most difficult, especially in the case of deep-rooted values ​​and beliefs such as religion or political tendencies. Cognitive dissonance can make people feel uncomfortable and uncomfortable, especially if the mismatch between their beliefs and behaviors is related to the core of their self-awareness. More personal, highly valued beliefs, such as beliefs about yourself, tend to cause more disharmony. [Sources: 10]

There are several ways people can reduce dissonance when making decisions (Festinger, 1964). This method of reducing disharmony may be the most effective, but it is also the most difficult to implement. It involves changing a person’s behavior to make it consistent with their other beliefs. [Sources: 1, 6]

Reconciling differences between conflicting beliefs or between actions and beliefs is a form of personal growth. In our efforts to reduce dissonance, we distort our choices to make them look better, we begin to appreciate what we have suffered in order to achieve, and we change our attitudes to match our behavior. [Sources: 0, 1]

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance states that when we experience conflict in our behavior, attitudes, or beliefs that runs counter to our positive self-perception, we experience psychological distress (dissonance). According to the theory, a mismatch between attitude and behavior causes an unpleasant emotional state called cognitive dissonance, and people try to reduce this undesirable state by changing their attitude. Thus, students change their attitudes to reduce the cognitive inconsistency between their attitude (I don’t like the idea of ​​higher tuition fees) and behavior (I wrote a supporting essay). [Sources: 5, 8]

Examples include “explaining things” or rejecting new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs. By invoking memories of the past as a source of potential adverse effects, the theory of cognitive dissonance can provide a theoretical basis for behavioral change efforts to improve physical and mental health. [Sources: 1, 4]

The concept of dissonance was once highly controversial, but its support through five decades of research has made it one of the most widely accepted concepts in social psychology. Psychologist Leon Festinger (1957) defined cognitive dissonance as psychological discomfort resulting from the persistence of two or more inconsistent attitudes, behaviors, or cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, or opinions). More than 60 years ago, Leon Festinger made the humble proposal that people with two or more psychologically incompatible cognitions experience a state of psychological stress called cognitive dissonance. In The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Leon Festinger, the psychologist who first described the phenomenon, gave an example of how a person can cope with health-related dissonance by discussing people who continue to smoke even if they know it is bad. for their health. [Sources: 0, 4, 8, 10]

Festinger suggested that people feel uncomfortable when they have conflicting beliefs or when their actions are contrary to their beliefs. Festinger used the term “cognitive” to precede dissonance, arguing that all kinds of thoughts, behavior, and perceptions are represented in people’s thinking through their cognitive representations. Leon Festinger was the first to propose the theory of cognitive dissonance, focusing on how people try to achieve inner consistency. Subsequent research has documented that only conflicting cognitions that threaten a positive self-image cause dissonance (Greenwald & Ronis, 1978). [Sources: 1, 4, 8, 10]

Further research has shown that not only is dissonance psychologically uncomfortable, it can also induce physiological arousal (Croyle & Cooper, 1983) and activate areas of the brain important for emotion and cognitive functioning (van Veen, Krug, Schooler & Carter, 2009). Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance (1957) suggests that we have an inner urge to keep all our relationships and behaviors in harmony and to avoid disharmony (or dissonance). Festinger’s theory suggests that a mismatch between beliefs or behavior causes uncomfortable psychological stress (Comrade Aronsons Reconsidering the idea of ​​dissonance as a mismatch between a person’s self-esteem and cognition of one’s behavior makes it likely that dissonance is nothing more than a mistake. [Sources: 2, 6, 8]

There are also individual differences in whether people act according to theoretical predictions. Many people seem to be able to deal with obvious dissonances without experiencing the pressure of theoretical predictions. Critics of this theory believe that it depends on a complex social background (which can lead to disharmony), but studies have shown that it has the same effect on children (with less understanding and therefore less susceptible to social background) and even pigeons. [Sources: 3, 6]

In their study, the degree of cognitive dissonance was quantified on a trial basis during the second assessment item, as indicated by the mismatch between participants’ preferences for each item and their past (selected or rejected) selection behavior. Left DLPFC activity was higher when participants wrote a countertitle essay without sufficient justification, compared to the condition when sufficient justification was provided (and thus the cognitive dissonance was much less) (Harmon-Jones, Gerdjikov, et al., 2008) … Since it was impossible to change the fact that they had already passed the test, the best way to reduce dissonance is to develop a more supportive attitude towards the group. [Sources: 5, 7]

Those who were in a state of “low confusion” experienced much less dissonance because they did not have to put in so much effort or endure so much discomfort to join the group. Hence, they did not need to change their perception of the group. [Sources: 7]

Their behavior confirmed the predictions of his theory of cognitive dissonance, the premise of which was that people needed to maintain consistency between thoughts, feelings and behavior. His research in social psychology focused on how people resolve conflict (group dynamics), ambiguity (social confrontation), and inconsistency (cognitive dissonance) – all manifestations of a desire for uniformity. The criticism proved to be useful not only because it attracted attention to the theory of cognitive dissonance, but also mainly because it led to numerous studies by a new group of dissonance researchers, which eventually confirmed many of Festinger’s unorthodox predictions. Cognitive dissonance was first explored by Leon Festinger through the joint observation of a cult that believed the earth would be destroyed by flooding and what happened to its members, especially those who truly dedicated themselves to someone who gave up their homes and jobs for the sake of to work for worship when there was no flood. [Sources: 2, 4, 6]

Em Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) studied whether forcing people to complete a boring task could create cognitive dissonance due to forced submission. One of the earliest and most classic examples of justification for effort is the study by Aronson and Mills. This monetary incentive was intended to prevent cognitive dissonance by providing the participant with an external justification for behavior that was inconsistent with their beliefs (by saying that the task was enjoyable when it was not). [Sources: 3, 5, 6]


— Slimane Zouggari


##### Sources #####

[0]: http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/social-psychology-theories/cognitive-dissonance-theory/

[1]: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326738

[2]: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leon-Festinger/Cognitive-dissonance

[3]: https://psynso.com/effort-justification/

[4]: https://www.rips-irsp.com/articles/10.5334/irsp.277/

[5]: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/cognitive-dissonance-theory

[6]: https://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html

[7]: https://www.alleydog.com/cognitive-dissonance-theory.php

[8]: https://opened.cuny.edu/courseware/module/78/student/?task=2

[9]: https://thedailyomnivore.net/2012/02/28/effort-justification/

[10]: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-cognitive-dissonance-2795012