Monday, December 6, 2010

Why do people try their utmost to avoid distressing mental state?

Cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they “find themselves doing things that don’t fit what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.”

Cognitive dissonance is an aversive drive that cause people to :
1) Avoid opposing viewpoints
2) Seek reassurance after making a tough decision
3) Change private beliefs to match public behavior when there was minimal justification for the action

Self consistency, a sense of personal responsibility, or self-affirmation can explain dissonance reduction actions.

The need to “avoid” dissonance is just as basic as the need for safety or the need to satisfy hunger. It is an aversive drive that make us to be consistent. The tension of dissonance motivates us to change either our behavior or our belief in an effort to avoid that distressing feeling.

Ways that most people adopt to reduce dissonance (between attitudes and actions)
1) Selective exposure
Not only do we tend to listen to opinions and select reading materials that are consistent with our existing beliefs, we usually choose to be with people who are like us.

By sticking to our own kind of people, we can maintain the relative comfort of the status quo.
Like minded people buffer us from ideas that could cause discomfort. In that sense, the process of making friends is a way to guarantee that we’ll receive positive feedback.

2) Post decision dissonance
Post decision dissonance creates a need for reassurance.
Example – Buying an expensive car or an expensive jewelery/handbag/fashion item.


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