Cognitive Dissonance, excuse me… cognitive what?😵

Have you ever thought how hard is to change our mindset even though evidence often shows we are partially wrong?

Being immersed in an environment full of noise: social media, news, TV shows, gossips, consumerism etc makes us feel we are not controlling our decisions and even more alarming… our lives.

Well, today I would like to share what I´ve been reading these days. Please note I am not a native english speaker nor a guru, a coach of something or pretending to be a savvy. Instead, I like to share my ideas with the aim to promote dialectic and keep enriching critical thinking.

Cognitive Dissonance in a nutshell

Let me start by saying, this has an intrinsic natural origin. Rejecting or avoiding facts that conflicts our thoughts and believes can encourage us to make decisions much faster. Why? Because it lies on our strong and most comfortable beliefs. Are many of us part of the problem? Not necessarily, in my opinion, our context plays a significant role.

Developing critical thinking at an early age or keep it practicing in our lives can mitigate these effects. The more I unlearn and relearn, makes me navigate without constraints within a myriad of noise/fake news. Please take a deep breath and ask you the following question… why do you believe what you believe? Do not get me wrong, I do not have the answer yet but hope I have it eventually. By reading new things, I tend to pick more options based on facts than the first most familiar ideas. Cognitive dissonance outlines essential facts that challenge our behaviors, and we all know how hard is that changing.

…the individual strives towards consistency within himself. His opinions and attitudes, for example, tend to exist in clusters that are internally consistent. — Leon Festinger — Pioneer in cognitive dissonance essays

How to cope with everything ingrained us?

How many of us have read that the more time you spend training your brain whether reading, writing or painting will improve our lives on every level? The vast majority, do not we? Then why we tend to follow what is easily presented? Part of the answer, in my opinion, is that seems easier said than done. Also take into consideration our contexts can trigger our best version or the opposite. A leap of faith is urgently needed, and it might be worthy to read the following statements provided by one of the most famous and recognized pioneers in cognitive dissonance, Leon Festinger.

The change may be painful or involve loss

The present behavior may be otherwise satisfying

Making the change may simply not be possible

Alright, how can we use this valuable insight in our every day?

Now you might be thinking, what is the connection between this and future work? Well, almost everything is connected these days. Let´s write a couple of examples that blend Cognitive Dissonance and real life.

Say you recurrently smoke by will (and perhaps it is the most common example) how many excuses will you tell yourself to ignore the damage your body will suffer by keeping that habit? Or say you desire restless a better job, but evidence shows that the most effective way to get it demands a deep change of your current competencies, will you choose a faster way o, will you condition yourself to upskilling?

I think most of us have ever heard buzzy words like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Automation or Digitalization in many sites. You also probably find suggestions like “… to have a better future you should upskill to those relevant technologies” but are you willing to do it without having conflicts with your thoughts? After reading extensively, I might think we should be looking at these as continuous challenge to improve every day.

As you can see, there is no immediate way to avoid cognitive dissonance at all but there is way to respond naturally whenever you need. Now that I tried to raise awareness, I left you with a list of take always.

Conclusion and take always.

Just think about Cognitive Dissonance as this way presented by The Decision Lab. Cognitive Dissonance is a theory proposing that we avoid having conflicting beliefs and attitudes because it makes us uncomfortable. The clash is usually dealt with by rejecting, debunking, or avoiding new information.

The statement above, reminds me what the book Emotional Intelligence from Daniel Goleman say about emotions, “…it´s not about suppressing your emotions, but to recognize and use them consciously”. The same applies to habits, believes and behaviors, so you do not need necessarily to avoid them but to make decisions based facts and to give a try to change them if you think worthy.

These reactions can be held by subconscious cognitive biases. Most of our decisions are based on that. So feel free to keep reading, take your time when something is challenging your deepest beliefs and I strongly recommend you to follow the next sites if you are interested in related topics.

The Decision Lab — Main source for this article

Wired Magazine — Studies from white papers and multiple sources for documentation

You Exec — You may find valuable insights of future economies, trends and so on

This article was published originally in Ingenuity by Siemens but in order to booster and promote new conversations and curiosity, I decided to post it here. Thank you for reading.

Me gusta considerarme como un entusiasta, aprendedor y curioso en temas de Inteligencia Artificial, Blockchain, Cloud Computing y Ciberseguridad.