What is the role of emotions in managing cognitive dissonance?

We found (in two studies) that the negative emotions experienced during cognitive dissonance were in fact inversely related to the change in attitude, while the positive emotions experienced in the same situation of dissonance were positively related to the change in attitude. The inconsistency between what people believe and how they behave motivates them to participate in actions that will help minimize feelings of discomfort. People try to ease this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining, or avoiding new information. The inner discomfort and tension of cognitive dissonance could contribute to stress or unhappiness.

Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort a person feels when their behavior doesn't align with their values or beliefs. Through sources, it has been established that a person's reaction to cognitive dissonance determines their emotional intelligence. Similarly, if the reduction of dissonance is used as a rationalization of past behavior or to reduce aversive consequences, it is the emotional reaction to cognitive conflict that initiates these processes. The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe mental distress that results from having two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes.

To seriously approach an approach based on individual difference, it is necessary to evaluate the individual's response to cognitive dissonance through different experimental paradigms (free choice, induced compliance, justification of effort, etc.). Alternatively, they can reduce cognitive dissonance by considering their values and looking for opportunities to live those values. The next way, to change one's own actions, would mean to stop doing what is causing cognitive dissonance. Shame is another self-conscious emotion that can arise in dissonant situations related to the violation of SRG, especially in situations where the individual cannot do much to compensate for the dissonant behavior and when the individual attributes the violation of SRG to the global self.

Cognitive dissonance occurs because humans strive to achieve coherence; inconsistencies cause discomfort to humans. Satisfaction with life is more prominent in people with higher emotional intelligence because of the way their internal struggle with cognitive dissonance is managed. In other words, the greater the magnitude of the dissonance, the more intense the negative arousal will be; however, new situations may be more emotionally intense because the individual lacks an automatic response to dissonant stimuli. In A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Leon Festinger (the psychologist who first described this phenomenon) offers an example of how a person can address dissonance related to health behavior by talking about people who continue to smoke, even though they know that it is harmful to their health.

Cognitive dissonance is handled differently from one person to another, so it's essential to know how to handle it in a healthy way. Distraction (distraction) is a more complex cognitive operation because it requires paying attention to emotional stimuli and, therefore, reevaluation could be avoided when the person considers that it may be too exhausting from a cognitive point of view. The most effective way to resolve cognitive dissonance is for a person to ensure that their actions are consistent with their values, or vice versa.

Hilary Gibbons
Hilary Gibbons

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