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Chronic Complainers & Cognitive Dissonance


JohnTheRev

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Hello, Can anyone tell me if there is a phenomenon in psychology pertaining to people who complain all the time and/or can find nothing good in particular people, places, things, etc? I know that this would be closely related to cognitive dissonance, but I'm looking more for what fuels and drives CD. A good example of what I'm referring to is within my own family. I grew up in a staunch politically Conservative home, and any time a Liberal government was elected (or even talked about), I would hear how 'they just want to ruin the country'. To me, this goes beyond CD, since those speaking did not actually know what that Liberal ideology was (and could rarely even explain the platform of their own Conservative representation). Another great example is the meme that is being circulated with a photo of Justin Trudeau, stating how the Government of Canada is giving so much more money towards refugees than they are to the Ft. McMurray disaster. 

What is this phenomenon of ridiculous thinking? 

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Cognitive dissonance is more about rationalizing our behaviour when it misaligns with an attitude. e.g., Conservatives used to care about senate reform. Harper gets elected and does nothing about it, so people start to minimize the importance of senate reform (i.e., weaken their attitude in order to justify the lack of action).

You're asking a big question. At the most basic, Social Identity Theory talks about ingroup bias where we derive positive feelings from promoting our own social groups and derogating others. Broadly, you're also talking about "motivated social cognition" where we shape our thoughts in service of other goals (e.g., to be right, to feel good, to promote our group at the expense of others). So people see a meme disparaging Trudeau and conservatives are inclined to believe it (because it supports their prior beliefs) and liberals are inclined to be skeptical (because it contradicts their prior beliefs). The most specific term you're looking for is probably "biased assimilation" or "confirmation bias".

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