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I want to know how strong is the pain of going through cognitive dissonance. Is it really so that changes in humans can be brought about by severity of cognitive dissonance struggle/pain ? Can I have a neurological perspective about it that might throw some light on the parts of the brain that are involved and the neurochemicals that might be playing a role in it ?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm personally having a bit of trouble following your question. Are you asking the mechanism behind cognitive dissonance and how they are usually subjectively felt my a person? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 17:26

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I think you're confusing science with politics. The APA and other such professional organizations have not, to my knowledge, concluded that cognitive dissonance should be avoided or even minimized. I'm unaware of any evidence that suggests that cognitive dissonance directly causes distress or suffering.

The position of psychology, as a science, is that cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon that exists and has certain properties. There is no normative stance from the field as a whole.

What happens in these cases is that political groups engage in activism and argue that such things should be minimized; the same is true of stereotyping, for instance. You may agree with the dominant political opinion, but it's not a scientific question, per se.

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  • $\begingroup$ @bls: just for curiosity, is that true also referred to the dark triad? Cognitive science doesn't judge / suggest people should not incur into that? (ps: +1 for the explanation) $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Revious, I'm not sure what your question is, and I've never heard the term "dark triad", but there certainly are cases in which cognitive science makes normative claims. This typically happens when a certain behavior or mental state is considered pathological. It just so happens that cognitive dissonance is not one of those cases. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ thanks. I am not sure if Dark triad is not condemned by cognitive science.. but it's typical of who is lacking of empathy (Machiavellic, Narcyssistics, Psychopatological) and of course is considered pathologycal (since create suffering in the patient). ps: sorry for my english.. $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 8:23
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I will try to answer even if I'm not an expert, I hope who is willing to downvote will instead write his own better answer or improve this one.

I've experienced cognitive dissonance many times. It's something very annoying and easy to understand. Imagine a guy which has a wife. He loves her but he has a strong neurotic need to change her. He intuits he could change himself but he feels this task as really hard. She doesn't change of course. And she suffer from this guy trying to change her.

The guy feels guilty, he feel responsible of a bad action, but he doesn't like this feeling. This is the moment in which cognitive dissonance acts.. She should change. the guy will focus on the reasons why SHE is guilty to feel less guilty. It's not a real pain, it's an intense emotion..

The dissonance itself is a functional mechanism. The best action is to reduce the neurotic needs of him and her.

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