Cognitive Dissonance: Why It's Hurting Your Analytics

By Greg Silverman, Sep 14, 2020

If you read our previous article, you likely have a better understanding of what cognitive dissonance is and why it typically occurs in businesses. However, if you need a brief refresher, cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling that occurs when a person holds contradictory beliefs or ideas, or is made to act against one of their convictions. Individuals are often faced with different levels of cognitive dissonance, and to reduce the psychological stress it causes, they have to take action.

Dissonance is also present in organizations and occurs for a variety of reasons that impact the efficiency of decision making and collaboration. The disconnect between actions and beliefs in a business is especially detrimental to analytics. When decision-makers are hesitant to believe the results of a model or don’t understand how to use the system, it creates frustration that hinders organizational growth.

Are you experiencing cognitive dissonance?

To begin taking action to mitigate cognitive dissonance, it’s important to understand how it affects employees on an individual and organizational level. An individual may have dissonance if they feel uncomfortable before making a decision, try to overly justify actions they have taken or are regretful or embarrassed about a choice they made, according to Verywell Mind.

Of course, these are typically characteristics of all internal struggles, so it’s difficult to explicitly identify cognitive dissonance in others. This being said, there are some telltale signs that an employee is experiencing cognitive dissonance at work. Beyond explicitly expressing their feelings of discomfort, you may notice an employee is suddenly withdrawn or disengaged from the task at hand, LinkedIn said. For instance, if your organization recently deployed a new analytics platform and your employee is expected to use it but is not wholly engaging with it, it’s possible that the forced compliance is causing dissonance. 

Without addressing and solving the dissonance, this negative behavior may spiral into chronic absenteeism, a gloomy attitude at work and overall poor performance that affects the company’s productivity. For this reason, it’s important to identify cognitive dissonance in the workplace quickly to begin implementing positive change.

Once you or an employee has accepted cognitive dissonance exists, it’s time to determine where it falls on the quadrant below. Depending on how much you are questioning your beliefs and how willing you are to accept change, there is a strategy to meet your needs and begin reducing discomfort.

Questioning Beliefs

4 strategies to meet your business needs

After reflecting on how much you’re questioning beliefs and your willingness to take action, there are four strategies to initiate change:

1. Efficiency: When the level at which you're questioning beliefs and your willingness to change is low, the best approach is efficiency. This means basing change on historical data, known rules and limited tactics. This strategy is best for products or services that are purchased as a routine, because people rarely switch to an alternative for certain items - such as cable service or soda brand. An abundance of facts and research makes lessening cognitive dissonance easier for those who are less willing to change.

2. Effectiveness:  This involves changing tactics, justifying new initiatives and using intuition to drive change. Because this strategy accounts for the entire consumer journey and models competition actions, it’s best for complicated products that have low or stagnant growth. Using models and data science helps improve your willingness to change.

3. Ideation: When questioning your beliefs is low and willingness to create change is high, the best approach is to try new alternatives and identify missed consumer shifts. Ideation also utilizes hunches to test scenarios and reach conclusions. In a chaotic environment, this strategy helps companies maintain and survive when conditions change and bring new ideas to a mature system.

4. Innovation: When you have both a high willingness to change and level of questioning your beliefs, change is easier to achieve. That’s why innovation is the best strategy for businesses in complex markets that have the resources for big growth and swaps. By changing levers on a model to test ROI, companies enable new strategies and work off hunches. While this has the potential for increased volatility, it involves the most complete model that accounts for competitive response, consumer zeitgeist and macro events that help validate even new plans of action.

In the current state of the market, innovation helps businesses create a routine for crisis by testing a multitude of scenarios. With a model that is capable of showing the economic and consumer conditions of today, organizations build the capability to be prepared and change their course of action when a significant emotional event occurs and they need to capture sales in unprecedented times. 

Don’t let cognitive dissonance hurt your analytics

As you see there are different levels of cognitive dissonance, but all have an effect on analytics. Decision makers may ignore the results of analysis if it did not match their expectations, or feel dissonance if they are forced to comply with the process or believe the efforts put in to running a model does not have the perceived payoff. 

When teams feel dissonance with analytics, it hinders the ability to efficiently meet their sales goals. However, identifying the level of dissonance and implementing one of the four aforementioned strategies means you’re on your way to overcoming the uncomfortable and meeting your needs with analysis.  

Especially in times when markets are not routine, it’s important to apply an analytics strategy that mitigates cognitive dissonance so your business is a first mover to once again gain share or maintain sales.

Concentric provides businesses with an in-house prescriptive analytics platform that provides the scientific methods and facts that make a roadmap to reach goals clear and difficult to ignore. Organizations are able to test scenarios before implementing them and follow through to reach their results with incredible accuracy that reduces any doubt decision-makers may face.

Don’t let cognitive dissonance get in the way of your business success. Contact us today to learn about deploying the Concentric Model in your organization today.


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