Motivation and attitudes
Voiceover: So we talked about, in our previous video, about how attitudes generally shape our behaviors. People strive for consistency and harmony between their attitudes and behaviors. For example, you wouldn't hold the attitude that eating meat is immoral and then still go out to Burger King and have a positive attitude towards eating hamburgers. So, there's an inconsistency and as people we usually don't like that. We feel a sense of discomfort. Now, when we have these contradictions in our attitudes and behaviors, this can lead to something called cognitive dissonance. So, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when holding two or more conflicting cognitions, and these cognitions can be ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. And this feeling of discomfort can lead to alterations in one of our attitudes, and one of our beliefs and even our behaviors. And the reason we alter or change these cognitions is kind of like a protective mechanism or defense mechanism, to reduce the discomfort we feel between inconsistencies. So, let's take a look at cognitive dissonance in the eyes of a smoker. Now, pretending we're a smoker, we're going to say, I smoke. But at the same time, we also think and have this attitude that smoking leads to cancer. Now, our behavior is we smoke, but our attitude is that smoking leads to cancer. There is a contradiction there, do you see it? There is an inconsistency. So, this is what dissonance is, if they are, are contradictions. And we don't like contradictions. We like balance and harmony, all that good stuff. So, when we have these contradictions, we may do four different things to our cognitions to alter alter those attitudes in order to reduce that comfort. And the first of these is that we may try to modify one or two of our cognitions. So, in this example of the smoker, the smoker may say, I really don't smoke that much. So, he went or she went from saying, I smoke, to modifying that a little bit and saying, I really don't smoke that much. So, there's a little bit of an alteration there in order to reduce the discomfort that person has in their attitude and behavior. The second thing that they might try and do is trivialize. Trivialize. Which means, making less important. So they may change the importance of their cognition or trivialize it, by saying something like, the evidence is weak that smoking causes cancer. So, remember their original cognition was, smoking leads to cancer. Now they're saying, by trivializing, that the evidence is weak that smoking causes cancer. So, do you see how there's a little bit of an alteration there as well? Now, the third way that this contradiction can be modified or reduced is by adding more cognitions. So, another way we can make our cognitions less discomfortable or the contradictions less uncomfortable, is by adding more cognitions. So, someone may say, I exercise so much that it doesn't even matter that I smoke. Well, the first was, I smoke. The second was, smoking leads to cancer. And now we're slightly modifying both of those by adding another cognition saying, I exercise so much that it doesn't even matter that I smoke. So there's a third way that we deal with cognitive dissonance. And the last way is by denying these cognitions altogether. So, we're denying that they're even related. Denying that smoking and cancer are even related. So the smoker, in this case, may say that there's no evidence that smoking and cancer are linked. So, this is cognitive dissonance in a nutshell in the eyes of a smoker. And the big take home message here is that people strive for harmony. We strive for harmony in our thoughts, in our words, in our actions, and as soon as our contradict, as soon as our cognitions, our attitudes and behaviors don't align, that's when we have cognitive dissonance.