012: Cognitive Dissonance and Faith Transition

ATF-generic-150x150The theory of Cognitive Dissonance is a well-established concept in the field of psychology that explains why we all experience discomfort and anxiety when we are exposed to new ideas and beliefs or engage in behavior that conflict with our pre-existing views, ideals, and beliefs.  Micah Nickolaison conducts this interview and states, “I’ve been extremely interested in producing an episode of A Thoughtful Faith that could explore the concept of Cognitive Dissonance as it relates to an LDS faith crisis / faith transition. When the opportunity came to produce a collaborative episode with the wonderful Natasha Helfer Parker at the Mormon Mental Health Podcast, this seemed like a really good fit for both audiences. So, I couldn’t be more thrilled about sharing this discussion with Natasha Helfer Parker and the amazing Jennifer Finlayson-Fife.”

Both Natasha Helfer Parker and Jennifer Finlayson-Fife are active Latter-Day Saints, as well as marriage and family therapists. Natasha and Jennifer each have experience with treating Mormon individuals and couples, and have observed the function of Cognitive Dissonance as it pertains to Mormon culture and ideals. Please visit their respective websites below.

In the first part of this episode we explore the clinical definition of Cognitive Dissonance, including some of the history behind the theory, as well as common examples from day-t0-day life. Afterwards, we transition into how understanding Cognitive Dissonance can be useful in understanding and navigating faith transitions and crises. We hope you enjoy, and please share your thoughts and comments with us below.


Shaken Faith Syndrome by Michael Ash
FAIR presentation by Michael Ash
TED Talk about Cognitive Dissonance
FAIR presentation addressing Cognitive Dissonance by LDS psychologist Wendy Ulrich

Nathasha Helfer Parker’s Website
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s Website


Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music.

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