Written by: Kiana Oliver
If you haven’t seen the 2006 comedy-drama film “The Devil Wears Prada,” here’s a quick summary. The story centers around an aspiring, 20-something-year-old journalist named Andy Sachs. To reach her dream job of being a reporter, Andy becomes a junior personal assistant to the diabolical editor-in-chief of “Runway Magazine,” Miranda Priestly. It’s a job that “millions of girls would kill for,” yet Andy is clueless about the fashion industry. There are some great life lessons throughout this film (seriously, who eats an onion bagel before a job interview?). It also exemplifies an overlooked psychological state: cognitive dissonance.
As Andy dashes across New York City trying to fulfill her boss’s crazy demands, you might be surprised to learn that Miranda is not the villain of this story. Wait, really? The woman who demands a jet during a hurricane is not the bad guy? Yup, and hear me out. According to “Psychology Today,” cognitive dissonance is a state of discomfort that a person feels when two or more thoughts, ideas or beliefs contradict each other. In an attempt to resolve her growing negative feelings, Andy tells herself and her loved ones that this job is temporary. She even makes fun of her coworkers and insists she doesn’t need to conform to the glamorous world of Runway.
However, after being humiliated by Miranda, Andy decides to change her mindset and begins to dress more stylishly. Even if you don’t appreciate Andy’s Chanel boots (sorry for the spoiler!), you can see how she is trying to diminish the inconsistencies between her thoughts.
Although I alluded that Andy is her own adversary, you might be surprised to learn that cognitive dissonance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to an article by Maike Neuhaus, P.hD., on PositivePsychology.com, “the experience of cognitive dissonance is an opportunity to learn and grow, as long as we deal with it constructively and respond in a way that we choose and is beneficial.”
Andy believes she is a good person, yet her story is a cautionary tale about what could happen if you sacrifice your personal life and values to boost your career. If she continues down this path, Andy is destined to become just as miserable as her boss. Therefore, the devil in “The Devil Wears Prada” is not cognitive dissonance; instead, it’s selfishness.
If you’re experiencing cognitive dissonance, Neuhaus suggests the following practices:
- Practice mindfulness.
- Challenge your current beliefs.
- Consider the importance of dissonant thoughts.
- Reflect on the reasons behind your behavior.
Lastly, it would be a catastrophe to end this article and not include this iconic quote from Miranda: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” Like this article? Follow @saucounseling on Instagram!