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What Is Cognitive Dissonance? Definition and Examples

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Recent research has sought to account for the strikingly long-lasting ability of maladaptive drug-stimulus associations to influence behavior and provoke relapse. Studies have shown that many abused substances can reshape the communication pathways between neurons (synaptic plasticity), which could contribute to both the formation and the persistence of maladaptive drug-stimulus associations. Self- efficacy increases and the probability of relapsing decreases when one is able to cope with this situation31.

Why Do People Experience Cognitive Dissonance in the Context of Addiction?

Mindfulness based interventions or third wave therapies have shown promise in addressing specific aspects of addictive behaviours such as craving, negative affect, impulsivity, distress tolerance. These interventions integrate both cognitive behavioural and mindfulness based strategies. Cultural adaptation of therapeutic programmes developed in western are important.


To ease the psychological pain of rejecting one choice (FOMO, anyone?) we often start justifying our decision. When we do this by thinking up positives for our choice and negatives for the other option, it’s called the “spreading of alternatives.” Your brain feels better when you can align your behavior with your values. Unlike hypocrisy, cognitive dissonance threatens our identity and sense of self. That’s why it’s important to recognize what it is and what it feels like — if you don’t, then it will be that much harder to live an authentic life aligned with your personal values. In fact, according to Cooper (2007), “Festinger’s insistence that cognitive dissonance was like a drive that needed to be reduced implied that people were going to have to find some way of resolving their inconsistencies. People do not just prefer to eat, rather than starve; they are biologically driven to eat.

Factors That Influence Cognitive Dissonance

The relapse prevention programme combines a variety of cognitive behavioural strategies33. Cognitive reframing of lapses, coping imagery for craving and life style interventions, such as physical activity are used to help develop skills to deal with craving and broaden the patient’s behavioural repertoire. Strengthening self-efficacy is important to reduce probability of relapse. Motivational Interviewing (MI) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) are approaches that target motivation and decisional balance of the patient. Although MI incorporates the principles of the trans theoretical model, it has been distinguished from both trans theoretical model and CBT21. Motivation enhancement therapy (MET) is a brief, program of two to four sessions, usually held before other treatment approaches, so as to enhance treatment response24.

Cognitive behaviour therapy is a structured, time limited, psychological intervention that has is empirically supported across a wide variety of psychological disorders. CBT for addictive behaviours can be traced back to the application of learning theories in understanding addiction and subsequently to social cognitive theories. The focus of CBT is manifold and the focus is on targeting maintaining factors of addictive behaviours and preventing relapse. Relapse prevention programmes are based on social cognitive and cognitive behavioural principles. More recent developments in the area of managing addictions include third wave behaviour therapies.

  • The hallmark of CBT is collaborative empiricism and describes the nature of therapeutic relationship.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapies are empirically supported interventions in the management of addictive behaviours.
  • For instance, someone with a strong belief in a political ideology may refuse to absorb new information that challenges their perspective.

Family and significant others are an integral part of the treatment program. The greatest strength of cognitive behavioural programmes is that they are individualized, and have a wide applicability. “Rather than experience the painful feelings of believing one thing but saying another, these individuals actually changed their opinion and convinced themselves that the task was actually very interesting. In other words, their attitude was shaped by their behavior (lying)” (Cooper and Carlsmith, 2002).

These are presented repeatedly without the previously learned pattern of drinking so as to lead to extinction. Despite work on cue reactivity, there is limited empirical support for the efficacy of cue exposure https://ecosoberhouse.com/ in recent literature14. As seen in Rajiv’s case illustration, internal (social anxiety, craving) and external cues (drinking partner, a favourite brand of drink) were identified as triggers for his craving.

  • One-on-one therapy is particularly effective in addressing cognitive dissonance and helping individuals shift their beliefs and behaviors.
  • An individual’s genetic makeup can influence the degree to which a drug of abuse alters his or her cognitive processes.
  • For example, behaving in ways that are not aligned with your personal values may result in intense feelings of discomfort.
  • In the first stage, the individual’s occasional drug taking becomes increasingly chronic and uncontrolled.

cognitive dissonance and addiction

By using these types of explanations, the smoker is able to reduce the dissonance and continue the unhealthy behavior. If you know texting and driving is dangerous, for example, changing the behavior will protect you and others in the long term. On the other hand, changing cognitive dissonance and addiction your perception of the behavior by telling yourself you have enough driving experience to text and drive safely will not have the same long-term outcome. Informed consent was obtained from all research participants for being included in the present study for publication.

Current prevention strategies and future directions for problem Internet use – ScienceDirect.com

Current prevention strategies and future directions for problem Internet use.

Posted: Thu, 24 Nov 2022 20:51:02 GMT [source]

How does cognitive dissonance affect the recovery process for addicts?

Humans are so good at dealing with cognitive dissonance that the process occurs without them even noticing it. The decisionmaking deficits resembled those observed in individuals with damage – to the prefrontal cortex, suggesting that both drugs alter function in that brain area (Rogers et al., 1999). The wife was involved in therapy, to support his abstinence and help him engage in alternate activities. Rajiv’s problem is an illustration of how various psychological, environmental and situational factors are involved in the acquisition and maintenance of substance use.

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