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Social Psychology - Cognitive Dissonance: I Don't Believe It!


Conflicting Beliefs

Cognitive Dissonance happens when a person receives information which is incompatible with and conflicts with their already existing set of beliefs, values and perceptions.

A state of dissonance is caused when the person then challenges or is unable to accept the seemingly incompatible received information and they become more inclined to sway towards their own beliefs, no matter how false or incorrect, in order to fit in with their already preconceived perception of the world, rather than accept the true information at face value.

The phrase cognitive dissonance was actually coined in 1956 book When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, a book about the followers of a UFO cult and a belief in an upcoming apocalypse.

Cognitive dissonance theory says that people have a tendency to try to rationalize the given information based upon their own set of values and beliefs, originating from their own experiences, providing seemingly reasonable explanations for the information rather than believing the seemingly impossible or difficult to believe, yet true, explanation actually given.

Conditioning Beliefs

We all live in a society where we are continuously being conditioned. That is not paranoia, it's fact. Whilst this isn't such a bad thing (protection of basic human rights) the conditioning does place limits on our ability to accept ideas, facts and phenomena which have not become common or mainstream knowledge.

We have been conditioned to live in a society where the normal thing to do is work a nine-to-five job, buy a home, have children, work to feed our families, pay our taxes then retire...

...but if we had been born 5,000 years earlier or even 5,000 years ahead then we would have been conditioned very differently in order to live in the environment that we would exist in.

In our day and age there is much alternative history that is not being taught in schools and many theories that are not common knowledge.

Indeed the education establishment only filters through information that would be considered a necessity to learn in order to get a skilled career in life and only certain relevant subjects are actually on the curriculum.

To Believe Or Not To Believe?

There are a lot of strange phenomena, unexplained mysteries and conspiracy theories in the world. We should remain aware that many of these unexplained phenomena and mysteries do remain unexplainable beyond conventional terms.

Although many have theorized about it and even one person experienced it first-hand and survived to tell the tale, there is still no official explanation for the phenomena that occurs at the Bermuda Triangle.

In addition we should remember that many conspiracy theories of the past have turned out to be true.

Some things just seem to be beyond reasonable explanation and the phenomena experienced at the Bermuda Triangle actually seems to indicate a violation of the laws of physics as we understand them.

Simply put, science does not explain everything. However, because we have been conditioned to accept science as fact we refuse to believe that phenomena such as that experienced at the Bermuda Triangle could actually be paranormal activity.

We are inclined to accept science as fact, even when real phenomena sometimes seems to prove it wrong.

The truth is that although science may be self-correcting indicated by reproducible results, there are still flaws in some theories and we certainly don't understand everything.

Attempting to rationalize is a normal human trait present in everyone and is sometimes a result of cognitive dissonance.

Examples of Cognitive Dissonance

Imagine being in a happy marriage for over twenty years.

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As far as you are concerned everything has always been perfect and still is...

...then you wake up one day to find out that your wife or husband has been working as a double-agent for the whole twenty years and living a secret life and everything you know about them is a lie.

Would you be able to just accept it?

No, you wouldn't - you would go into a state of cognitive dissonance, disbelief and confusion*.

* Confusion can lead to hyper-suggestibility making a persons own rationalizations seem more believable, despite how illogical those rationalizations are.

Ecuador, Brazil and Mexico have declassified many official government documents that prove that the UFO phenomena is real.

Ecuador openly admit that UFO's are an advanced technology and are potentially extraterrestrial in origin.

However, despite many governments all over the world releasing their information many people all over the world refuse to believe that UFO's are real or an extraterrestrial technology - even though it was the public who fought to get the information out.

Relating to the above statement, many people refuse to believe the claims of government whistleblower Robert Lazar regarding Element 115 (Ununpentium), despite Russia officially announcing that they had created two stable isotopes of Element 115 and Ununpentium being added to the periodic table in 2003.

Element 115 (Ununpentium) have also recently been reconfirmed by another laboratory - see

By Sparkster


Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 09, 2014:

Marx, are you joking?!?! lolol. Whilst I have no doubt that many UFO's are indeed stealth military technology, there is also plenty of evidence which suggests that up to 5% of UFO's may be of extraterrestrial origin and many governments have declassified documents which confirm this... but that's not really what this hub (or the book by Leon Festinger) is about - the book was about a UFO cult who believed in an upcoming apocalypse and when it didn't happen they went into a state of 'cognitive dissonance' and ended up committing suicide. Aside from that, there is evidence to suggest that SOME (up to 5% as mentioned) UFO's come from an external source (i.e. outside of Earth).

Marx on November 09, 2014:

Dear god....

What is UFO? Flying object that cannot be identified in given situation because technology is obsolite, inaccurate etc. Perhaps Russians or Americans have developed new stealth technology which is far more advanced than detection or defence systems of some countries. There is no reason to believe it is not terrestrial.

SandCastles on October 04, 2012:


Thomas Swan from New Zealand on May 30, 2012:

Thanks for the hub, I know a bit about this subject, and find it fascinating. Cognitive dissonance is an example of motivated reasoning. It is characterised by a state of arousal, which may be caused by anxiety about the internal conflict that causes it. It is a very powerful theory because it could describe how anxiety motivates a change in belief. This may have a great deal of relevance for explaining how people become religious.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 09, 2012:

Thanks for the comments.

Yes, UFO technology is officially very real. It may not be alien but I do personally believe that extraterrestrials are here. They may be inter-dimensional as you suggest, I have no idea.

According to Betty Hill's star map they'e from Zeta Reticuli (could be misinfo/disinfo).

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on February 09, 2012:

I use one theory, I only believe in the things I see. Some of the things I have seen was in groups , which proves I am not mad. UFO technology is real. I don,t think its alien though. I think they are trans-dimensional beings, meaning they do not travel any distance to get here. They just cross the dimensional divide.

colpolbear from Pennsylvania on February 09, 2012:

This Hub is very true. I'll sometimes denounce something, think about it for a few seconds or minutes, and realize I never even bothered to think about the subject.

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