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What is Cognitive Dissonance?

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*Vocabulary is sometimes provided in written form when it may be unfamiliar to the student, but essential for understanding the lecture

Vocabulary
Leon Festinger
cognitive dissonance

TRANSCRIPT

What is Cognitive Dissonance?

Social psychologists have documented that feeling good about ourselves and maintaining positive self-esteem is a powerful motivator of human behavior. In the United States, members of the predominant culture typically think very highly of themselves and view themselves as good people who are above average on many desirable traits. Often, our behavior, attitudes, and beliefs are affected when we experience a threat to our self-esteem or positive self-image. Back in the 1950s, psychologist Leon Festinger defined cognitive dissonance as psychological discomfort arising from holding two or more inconsistent attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, or opinions. Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance states that when we experience a conflict in our behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs that runs counter to our positive self-perceptions, we experience psychological discomfort. For example, if you believe smoking is bad for your health but you continue to smoke, you experience conflict between your belief and behavior.

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