Simply put, congitive dissonance theory states that when you have two opposing ideas (or ideologies) at the same time, you will act upon the one that causes the less distortion to your ego.
(See Narrative paradigm)
“The Narrative Paradigm is a theory proposed by Walter Fisher that all meaningful communication is a form of storytelling or giving a report of events (see narrative), and that human beings experience and comprehend life as a series of ongoing narratives, each with its own conflicts, characters, beginning, middle, and end. Fisher believes that all forms of communication that appeal to our reason are best viewed as stories shaped by history, culture, and character, and all forms of human communication are to be seen fundamentally as stories.”
– from Wikipedia
People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief? The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.
Psychologists refer to this vulnerability as the “willful suspension of disbelief,” where one can easily see the potential manipulations and evil motives of the perpetrator or perpetrators, but, because they have already made some prior committment to go along with this, it is easier to continue than to back out.
“Well put and explained! Unfortunately, most people have no idea that this is happening – that’s why it is so easy for propaganda, from commercials, the main stream media or governments to be accepted – hook, line and sinker. They swallow it whole.
It takes a logical mind to block this stuff, and logic is no longer taught or encouraged. Circular thinking seems to be all the rage – it allows for justification of whatever action a person may take.
But I liked your article all the same! Thanks !”
A commenter at http://www.viewzone.com/cognitivedissonance.html
According to Wikipedia:Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The “ideas” or “cognitions” in question may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one’s behavior.The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Cognitive dissonance theory is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. Dissonance normally occurs when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her cognitions. This happens when one idea implies the opposite of another. For example, a belief in animal rights could be interpreted as inconsistent with eating meat or wearing fur. Noticing the contradiction would lead to dissonance, which could be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states.When people’s ideas are consistent with each other, they are in a state of harmony or consonance. If cognitions are unrelated, they are categorized as irrelevant to each other and do not lead to dissonance.
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who (1) holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time or (2) is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.
Leon Festinger‘s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
- “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”
- “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance”
Social engineering as applied to security is the exploitation of various social and psychological weaknesses in individuals and business structures, sometimes for penetration testing but more often for nefarious purposes, such as espionage against businesses, agencies, and individuals, typically toward the end of obtaining some illegal gain, either of useful but restricted or private information or for monetary gain through such methods as phishing to obtain banking account access, or for purposes of identity theft, blackmail, and so forth. Exploitation of weaknesses caused by inducing cognitive dissonance in targets is one of the techniques used by perpetrators.
“The Professional Voice Of Law Enforcement”
Understanding the Psychology of Police Misconduct
|By Brian D. Fitch, PhD, Lieutenant, Los Angeles, California, Sheriff’s Department|
Blame the victim. An officer who uses this form of justification blames the victim for any misconduct or abuse. If, for instance, officers use unreasonable force on a suspected drug dealer, they can simply argue that the victim brought on this suffering by violating the law. “If the dealer doesn’t want to get beat up, the dealer should obey the law,” the officer might reason. “I’m not using force on law-abiding citizens, only on drug dealers; they give up their rights when they break the rules.” By assigning blame to the victim, the officer not only finds a way to excuse any wrongdoing, but also a way to feel sanctimonious about doing so.
Dehumanization. The amount of guilt or shame officers feel for behaving unethically depends, at least in part, on how they regard the person being abused. To avoid the feelings of self-censorship or guilt that often accompany misconduct, officers can employ euphemistic language to strip victims of their humanity. Using terms like “dirtbag” to describe law violators has the effect of dehumanizing intended targets, generally making it easier for officers to justify, ignore, or minimize the harmful effects of their actions, while at the same time reducing their personal responsibility for behaving in ways that they know are wrong.
Diffusion of responsibility. An officer who uses this excuse relies on the shared participation—and, by extension, the shared guilt—of everyone involved in an incident of misconduct to excuse or reduce any personal culpability. With each additional accomplice, every individual officer is seen as that much less responsible for any wrongdoing that might have occurred. If, for instance, money is stolen from an arrestee, officers might assert that there were many officers at the crime scene who could have done this, so an individual cannot be blamed. Similarly, if ten officers were involved in the service of a search warrant, then each officer is only one-tenth responsible for any misconduct that occurs.