cognitive dissonance

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cognitive dissonance (countable and uncountable, plural cognitive dissonances)

  1. (psychology) A conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistencies between one's beliefs and one's actions or other beliefs.[1][2][3]
    • 1989, Marc Galanter, Cults and New Religious Movements: A Report of the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., →ISBN, page 102:
      In the state of ultimate commitment, a true believer feels better for having raised and or given money to the cause. It also aids in overcoming cognitive dissonance (the cause "must be" worthwhile to have attracted these funds). All kinds of rationales are given and accepted for the displayed wealth of the leaders, but it is fascinating to see the blind acceptance being replaced by questioning and scorn as the hypocrisies and double standards begin to make themselves felt.
    • 1999, Jean-Marie Abgrall, Soul Snatchers: The Mechanics of Cults, Algora Publishing, →ISBN, page 84:
      If a given activity fails and it causes the death of a follower, it is because the rest of the group had insufficient faith or that it was done too late. Should the extraterrestrial beings not descend at the appointed time, then it may also be explained as due to their being frightened by the non-believers. Thus all plots and prophecies become possible — the capacity to reduce cognitive dissonance is the cement of the cult when it confronts reality, and this is why the layman is helpless before the nonsense that is spread by these speeches.
    • 2001, Kenneth S. Bordens, Irwin A. Horowitz, Social Psychology, Lawrence Erlbaum, →ISBN, page 223:
      By turning over all their possessions, members were making an irreversible commitment to the cult. Once such a commitment is made, people are unlikely to abandon positive attitudes toward the group (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1982). After expending so much effort, questioning commitment would create cognitive dissonance (Osherow, 1988). It is inconsistent to prove devotion to a belief by donating all of your possessions and then to abandon those beliefs. In other words, to a large extent, cult members persuade themselves.
    • 2003, Bernard Spilka, The Psychology of Religion, The Guilford Press, →ISBN, page 356:
      Much of the research literature has reintroduced classic cognitive dissonance theory to provide theoretical justification for a sequence of behavior change–belief change. The focus has been upon maintenance of conversion within groups when prophecy appears to fail.
    • 2009, “Researching Scientology: Perceptions, Premises, Promises, and Problematics, by Douglas E. Cowan”, in James R. Lewis, editor, Scientology, Oxford University Press, USA, →ISBN, page 56:
      As a low-level experience of cognitive dissonance, how does one maintain faith in an organization when some of the most basic claims are contradicted by evidence and ordinary experience?


For more quotations using this term, see Citations:cognitive dissonance.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corsini, Raymond J. (2001) The Dictionary of Psychology, Routledge, →ISBN, page 180
  2. ^ Modeste, Naomi N.; Teri S. Tamayose (2004) Dictionary of Public Health Promotion and Education: Terms and Concepts, Jossey-Bass, →ISBN, page 19
  3. ^ Danesi, Marcel (2000) Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics, Media, and Communication, University of Toronto Press, →ISBN, page 53