The Cognitive Battles Of Survivors Guilt, Explained By A Psychologist

The Cognitive Battles Of Survivors Guilt, Explained By A Psychologist

In this context, further studies investigating the nature and characteristics of the CDS will be informative and will help understanding the processes behind cognitive dissonance. has become popular among social psychology and social science researchers since its early days, due to its few tenets that are able to explain the complex process of dissonance. However, the parsimonious nature of its formulation and application made the theory subject to the paradox of simplicity and raised concerns about overlooking confounding variables (Festinger, 1957; Osgood, 1960; Zajonc, 1960). In response to the limitations of the theory, three revisions of cognitive dissonance theory have been proposed. Firstly, the self-consistency model (Abelson, Aronson & McGuire, 1968; Aronson, 1999) addressed the paradox of the simplicity of the original theory by adding self-concept as a further explanation of dissonance. Secondly, the self-affirmation model (Berkowitz, 1988) focused on the overall self-image of moral and adaptive adequacy as an alternative explanation for attitude change.

Therefore, the brain is an inference machine that attempts to actively predict and explain its sensations. The predictive dissonance account proposes that the motivation for cognitive dissonance reduction is related to an organism’s active drive for reducing prediction error. Moreover, it proposes that human (and perhaps other animal) brains have evolved to selectively ignore contradictory information (as proposed by dissonance theory) to prevent the overfitting of their predictive cognitive models to local and thus non-generalizing conditions. The predictive dissonance account is highly compatible with the action-motivation model since, in practice, prediction error can arise from unsuccessful behavior. Survivor’s guilt often gives rise to cognitive dissonance—a state of mental discomfort wherein individuals hold conflicting beliefs or attitudes.

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The greater the magnitude of dissonance, the greater the pressure for the individual to reduce the dissonance (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 2019). The existence of dissonance and the mechanisms that humans used to cope with it captured Festinger’s interest in developing cognitive dissonance theory. The concept of cognition was relatively new at the time of the introduction of cognitive dissonance theory.

  • Understanding your beliefs and values behind the inconsistencies is an opportunity to develop deeper self-knowledge.
  • Therapy can help patients by reflecting on and taking control of their thoughts.
  • Firstly, the self-consistency model (Abelson, Aronson & McGuire, 1968; Aronson, 1999) addressed the paradox of the simplicity of the original theory by adding self-concept as a further explanation of dissonance.

] and if the decision was close then the effects of cognitive dissonance should be greater. In Hafer and Gosse (2010), we discuss a number of potential situational determinants of how people defend BJW in the face of threat. Prevention programs based on cognitive dissonance and the use of the Internet have been widely and successfully implemented among female college models, but their use has not yet filtered down to the school setting.

Ways to Address Cognitive Dissonance

We may have dozens of cognitions of which we are at least dimly aware at any moment in time and innumerable more of which we can become aware, once our attention or memory is set in motion. Most of the cognitions that we have are not related to each other in any obvious way. For example, my knowledge that I am hungry and my knowledge that the Earth travels around the Sun are two cognitions, but my hunger bears no relationship to the trajectory of the planets. My knowledge that I am hungry is very much related to my behavior at the local restaurant in which I am sitting. If I order a meal, the knowledge of that behavior is related to my knowledge that I’m hungry. However, if I decide to forego the meal, or simply order a cup of coffee, my ordering behavior is again related to my hunger, but this time it is inconsistent.

cognitive dissonance theory

This seems trivial from a methodological point of view, but most paradigms in cognitive dissonance do not comply with this principle. Indeed, classic paradigms in CDT manipulated, for instance, the pay for a discrepant behavior (Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959), the severity of the pressure to inhibit a behavior (Aronson and Carlsmith, 1962), or the deployed effort to join a group (Aronson and Mills, 1959). From a theoretical and methodological point of view, these variables are not manipulations of inconsistency but moderator variables linked to the situation (i.e., incentive, justification, effort) that decrease or increase the CDS (Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959, pp. 203–204). Indeed, cognitions consistent with the behavior (presumed the most resistant) are supposed to decrease the magnitude of the CDS, while inconsistent ones are supposed to increase it. These variables are thus supposed to modulate the magnitude of the CDS and, in some specific cases (i.e., commitment), they bolster the resistance to change and thus orientate the occurrence of reduction strategies (Vaidis and Gosling, 2011; Vaidis and Bran, 2018). Therefore, these moderators can influence the magnitude of dissonance but do not constitute a manipulation of the inconsistency, as would be comparing an inconsistent situation to a neutral or consistent one.