Does Cognitive Dissonance Help Sustain Organization Culture?

Cognitive dissonance describes a condition of stress, or a feeling of internal discomfort caused by conflicting ideas, values, beliefs or practices. Essentially, this is a situation where two or more opposing thoughts are causing psychological discomfort.cognitive dissonance

This has been often considered as a stressor at workplace as it’s believed that we humans have an inner drive to maintain harmony between attitudes, beliefs and practices. When faced with an internal clash or those cognitions, our natural reaction is to reduce or eliminate it to prevent emotional discomfort.  Often expressing dissonance has been considered negative and people have been encouraged to fall in line inspite of the great internal conflict they experience.

I believe that cognitive dissonance is an elixir which sustain a strong culture.  It provides a contrarian view and a constant challenge to the existing values and beliefs.  When people are allowed to express themselves, it relieves them of the stress of internal conflict and also provides an opportunity for them to validate their values and beliefs against the group needs.  The more you defend against such views the more firm your belief in your own values and beliefs become.  At times it will also help you to understand whether such values are helping you in the current times or there is a need for change as well.

Often people choose or are forced to suppress such dissonance just in order to maintain harmony.  This often leads them to tell themselves comforting lies about the situation.  The fact that they do not agree and have been suppressed is what makes such lies the primary cause of stress in people today.  Not just corporate workers but children, students, parents, family et al. suffer from such comforting lies every day of their life.  The constant conflict between opposing values is what strengthens the culture and provides it with increasing evidence of what works and doesn’t.

Facing up to ‘Uncomfortable truths’ is what helps to bring about a positive change.  The choice of course is yours…


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