How Cognitive Dissonance Affects Our COVID-19 Decisions: A Psychologist Explains

6 signs of loneliness: how to stay connected during COVID 19

loneliness and COVID

We’re often hesitant to admit we’re lonely because of the stigma associated with loneliness — that it’s somehow our fault or we’re deficient in some way. Image source: Shutterstock


This is especially so as Melburnians entered the strictest lockdown to date. Meanwhile, the rest of Australia braces for the possibility of a second wave, and people are adapting to new habits and restrictions.  This has disrupted our social routines, and in many cases has reduced the number of people we interact with. This makes it harder to maintain meaningful social connections, resulting in loneliness.

But sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you’re feeling lonely or feeling something else. And many people are reluctant to admit they’re lonely for fear it makes them seem deficient in some way.

So what are the signs of loneliness? And how can we recognize these signs and therefore manage them…


How Cognitive Dissonance Affects Our COVID-19 Decisions: A Psychologist Explains

Anyone could be a carrier of COVID-19, but I want to see my boyfriend.  Staying home is essential to contain the coronavirus pandemic, but I want to go out and do stuff.

Not wearing a mask increases my risk of being infected, but I just don’t want to wear one.  When there is a clash between two cognitions, or between a cognition and a behavior, we feel uncomfortable.

This discomfort is called cognitive dissonance, a term coined by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957. As social psychologists Eliot Aronson and Carol Tavris explain to the Atlantic, dissonance is “the motivational mechanism that underlies the reluctance to admit mistakes or accept scientific findings—even when those findings can save our lives.”

To resolve the discomfort from dissonance, we either change our behavior or change our belief so that we can continue to lead a life that makes sense to us. Even if our decisions move us in a detrimental direction.

And this essentially explains why some good, decent people have been engaging in dangerous or selfish behaviors that harm themselves or others, especially in the time of COVID-19…


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