via Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking
is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions
. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior. This theory was first explored in detail by social psychologist Leon Festinger, who described it this way:
Dissonance and consonance
are relations among cognitions that is, among opinions, beliefs, knowledge of the environment, and knowledge of one’s own actions and feelings. Two opinions, or beliefs, or items of knowledge are dissonant with each other if they do not fit together; that is, if they are inconsistent, or if, considering only the particular two items, one does not follow from the other (Festinger 1956: 25).
He argued that there are three ways to deal with cognitive dissonance. He did not consider these mutually exclusive.
- One may try to change one or more of the beliefs, opinions, or behaviors involved in the dissonance;
- One may try to acquire new information or beliefs that will increase the existing consonance and thus cause the total dissonance to be reduced; or,
- One may try to forget or reduce the importance of those cognitions that are in a dissonant relationship (Festinger 1956: 25-26).
For example, people who smoke know smoking is a bad habit. Some rationalize their behavior by looking on the bright side: They tell themselves that smoking helps keep the weight down and that there is a greater threat to health from being overweight than from smoking. Others quit smoking. Most of us are clever enough to come up with ad hoc hypotheses
or rationalizations to save cherished notions. Why we can’t apply this cleverness more competently is not explained by noting that we are led to rationalize because we are trying to reduce or eliminate cognitive dissonance. Different people deal with psychological discomfort in different ways. Some ways are clearly more reasonable than others. So, why do some people react to dissonance with cognitive competence, while others respond with cognitive incompetence?
Cognitive dissonance has been called “the mind controller’s best friend” (Levine 2003: 202). Yet, a cursory examination of cognitive dissonance reveals that it is not the dissonance, but how people deal with it, that would be of interest to someone trying to control others when the evidence seems against them.
MORE . . .
There has been a tendency to take the position that thoughts of death are associated with depression and associated negative health consequences. However, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies thinking about death can actually be a good thing. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology has discussed this topic in the article “How Thinking About Death Can Lead to a Good Life.”
Thoughts about death can actually be a good thing which can help us re-prioritize our goals and values. It appears that even non-conscious thinking about death, such as walking by a cemetery, could prompt positive changes and promote the helping of others. Past research generally suggests that thinking about death is destructive and dangerous and sets off everything from prejudice and greed to violence. These studies which have been related to terror management theory (TMT) have rarely explored the potential benefits of being aware of death.
Keep Reading: Thoughts of death may be associated with a good life – National health | Examiner.com.