Jul 15th, 2007 | People
Humans can justify almost anything thanks to cognitive dissonance, explains Newsweek.
Cognitive dissonance is the extreme emotional discomfort we feel when two important beliefs, attitudes or perceptions collide. Humans cannot tolerate dissonance for long, so they ease the tension by making a change in belief or attitude—and justifying the change.
Why can’t we just live with inconsistency and contradiction? We experience unpleasant emotions whenever life forces us to choose a course of action, but we are not fully convinced it’s the right course. When we make an important commitment, the mind instinctively seeks out proof that we’ve done the smart thing.
What if you make a choice that is really bad and you can’t hide from it? People who don’t want to recognize own mistake become even more entrenched in their belief once it is proven wrong. They throw good money after bad in the market, grab for straws in a dying relationship or send yet more troops to fight a misbegotten war.
Comments: All of us have beliefs, and all of us have times when our beliefs are challenged by other people and reality. It is a real pain :). Cognitive dissonance is a natural psychological reaction that cause us to change or entrench deeper, but somehow resolve the issue. Being stubborn and hold to wrong beliefs is bad, but changing them frequently is bad too as it prevents us from building stable and predictable mental concepts of the surrounding reality. The best way to stay in touch with reality is testing our beliefs, get feedback often and keep mind open. This approach is a core of Agile and iterative development and this is one of the best methods to resolve cognitive dissonance in software creation.