My actions speak louder than even my beliefs

This was received from my colleague and I thought I would share his comments.

My actions speak louder than even my beliefs
Dr. Ron Bonnstetter
Groucho Marx once said, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others…”. This line begs the question: What happens to us when our actions come in conflict with our beliefs? Do we buckle to pressure and in the process actually change our beliefs, or do we maintain our conviction even though our outward express is contrary to our beliefs?
A classic study by Festinger and Carlsmith published in 1959 suggest that we do in fact make cognitive modifications under forced compliance. “The beatings will continue until morale improves”, according to Festinger just might work if you actually participate in the activity and in the process buy into the concept. Scary, huh.
I was thinking about this cognitive dissonance theory recently while I was pursuing some light reading on “The Nuremberg Mind: The psychology of the Nazi Leaders.” These Third Reich leaders, for the most part, had convinced themselves that they were only following orders and had no personal responsibility. They had in fact adjusted their beliefs to align with their actions.
In other words, cognitive dissonance theory suggests that when we are forced to defend our actions, we end up believing them. But is this true for all people?
Since joining the TTI family and studying behaviors, motivators and emotional intelligence data on a daily basis, I find exceptions to this theory. We regularly see unique groups that seem less prone to succumbing to internal conflict. For example, we have evidence that certain behavioral types are far more unlikely to change beliefs than others.
In addition our brain imaging research has found that we appear to have a much stronger reaction to our dislikes than our likes. And, therefore, our actions are more driven by our desire to avoid than to embrace. This avoidance may also come into play when faced with internal conflict. Some people may simply change their beliefs to match their action and in the process, avoid any cognitive dissonance.
Are these simply anomalies from the original theory or are we through our research and identification tools refining the process for identification. I believe the later. I am convinced that, as is the case for most theories, there are exceptions that up to now eluded explanations. Our research is filling in many of these gaps. Or maybe our daily actions are so compelling that we are changing our beliefs and are now convinced that we are right. Damn you dissonance!


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