(Or, why people don’t move to more successful behaviors easily)
We are familiar with the term “comfort zone”. This is the “place” where we are comfortable operating within. Also, most people are, to varying degrees, “resistant” to change, especially to change out our of their comfort zone. Cognitive Dissonance explains this behavior.
In modern psychology cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In other words, being in our comfort zone, and wanting to change for improvement or growth.
The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements. It is the distressing mental state that people feel when they “find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.” A key assumption is that people want their expectations to meet reality, creating a sense of equilibrium. Likewise, another assumption is that a person will avoid situations or information sources that give rise to feelings of uneasiness, or dissonance. They do this until their “pain/discomfort” causes them to take action.
Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people engage in a process termed “dissonance reduction” (move away from “the pain/discomfort”), which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.
The solution to cognitive dissonance is to adopt the following principle:
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, GROWTH IS OPTIONAL AND TAKES POSITIVE DIRECTED ACTION.