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Why Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds: Cognitive Dissonance

why facts dont change peoples minds

4. Ignore or deny information that conflicts with their existing beliefs. For example, “All that stuff is just ‘fake news,’ and you can’t trust it.”

The Bottom Line

When there is a conflict between our attitudes and our behavior, we tend to change our attitudes to make them consistent with our behavior rather than change our behavior to make it consistent with our attitudes.

Ideally, people would be rational beings who consistently adjust their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to align them with new information that is essentially incontrovertible. But that is not the case. Indeed, there are many who still maintain that the earth is flat; or only 6,500 years old; that vaccines are a health hazard; that evolution is a falsehood; or that climate change is a hoax.

Unfortunately, many people are unwilling to change their worldview to account for new information that contradicts their cherished beliefs. Instead, they reduce dissonance by justifying their outlook rather than by changing their minds or behaviors. If science worked the way many people do, we would still be living in caves and dying in our 30s. But at least the planet’s ecological health would be vastly better—even if humans’ wasn’t.

Remember: Think well, act well, feel well, be well!

Related: 25 Amazing Psychological Facts That Will Boggle Your Mind

Copyright 2018 by Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D. This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance or personal mental health treatment by a qualified clinician.

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References:

Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. California: Stanford University Press.
Written by: Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D
Originally appeared on: Psychology Today
Republished with permission 
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Why Facts Don't Change People's Minds: Cognitive Dissonance
why facts dont change peoples minds pin
Why Facts Don't Change People's Minds: Cognitive Dissonance
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Clifford Lazarus

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology. Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar. From 1989 to 1994 he was the Associate Director of Princeton Biomedical Research, P.A., a leading facility dedicated to evaluating new generation psychiatric medications for pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration. An internationally respected lecturer, Dr. Clifford Lazarus consults widely on matters of health psychology, evidence-based psychological treatment, and integrating medical and psychological treatments. In addition to his numerous professional publications, he has authored two popular books that have been translated into more than a dozen languages: Don’t Believe It For A Minute - Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy; and The 60-Second Shrink - 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World. Dr. Clifford Lazarus has been honored by the Prescribing Psychologists’ Register for his outstanding contributions to the pioneering efforts of training in psychopharmacology for psychologists. In addition to his clinical and consultation work, from 1993 to 1998 Dr. Clifford Lazarus co-hosted a weekly, listener-call-in radio program "Mental Health Matters."View Author posts