Cognitive Dissonance



Cognitive Dissonance

Individuals sometimes experience a contradiction between their actions and their beliefs-between what they are doing and what they believe they should be doing. These contradictions can cause a kind of mental discomfort known as cognitive dissonance. People experiencing cognitive dissonance often do not want to change the way they are acting, so they resolve the contradictory situation in another way, they change their interpretation of the situation in a way that minimizes the contradiction between what they are doing and what they believe should be doing.

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    <-NARRATOR:-> Now listen to part of a lecture about this topic in a sociology class.
    <-MALE PROFESSOR:-> This is a true story—from my own life.
    In my first year in high school, I was addicted to video games.
    I played them all the time and I wasn't studying enough—
    I was failing chemistry.
    That was my hardest class.
    So this was a conflict for me, because I wanted a good job when I grew up, and I believed—I knew—that if you want a good career, you got to do well in school.
    But I just couldn't give up video games.
    I was completely torn.
    And my solution was change my perspective.
    See, the only class I was doing really badly in was chemistry.
    In the others, I was...l was ok.
    So I asked myself, if I wanted to be a chemist when I grew up, and the fact is I didn't.
    I was pretty sure I wanted to be a sociologist, so I told myself my chemistry class didn't matter, because sociologists don't really need to know chemistry.
    In other words, I changed my understanding of what it meant to do well in school.
    I reinterpreted my situation.
    I used to think that doing well in school meant doing well in all my classes.
    But now I decided that succeeding in school meant only doing well in the classes that related directly to my future career.
    I eliminated the conflict, at least in my mind.


Using the example discussed by the professor, explain what cognitive dissonance is and how people often deal with it.


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