Home Cognitive Dissonance What Is Cognitive Dissonance?
Cognitive Dissonance

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

What Is Cognitive Dissonance
What Is Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the term used to describe mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes.  People seek stability in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes feelings of unease or discomfort.

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is described as “an unpleasant psychological situation resulting from a dissonance between two or more aspects in the cognitive system” by the American Psychological Association.

The inconsistency between what people believe and how they behave leads them to engage in actions that will help reduce feelings of discomfort.  People try to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining, or avoiding new information.

Symptoms of cognitive dissonance

Everyone experiences cognitive dissonance to some degree but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to recognize.  Some signs you’re feeling may be related to incompatibility:

  • Feeling uncomfortable before making a decision
  • Trying to justify or rationalize a decision you made or an action you took
  • Feeling ashamed or embarrassed about something you did and trying to hide your actions from other people
  • Experiencing guilt or remorse about something you did in the past
  • Doing something you didn’t want to do out of fear of missing out (fomo) or societal pressure

Examples of cognitive dissonance

What does this inconsistency-related discomfort look like in everyday life?  Here are some cognitive dissonance examples that you might see for yourself:

You want to be healthy, but you don’t exercise regularly or eat a nutritious diet.  As a result you feel guilty.

You are aware that smoking and excessive drinking are bad for your health, but you nevertheless do them. You use your high levels of stress as justification for this behavior. You want to build your savings but spend the extra cash as soon as you get it.  You may later regret the decision, as if facing an unexpected expense that you don’t have money to cover.

You have a long to-do list but instead spend the day watching your favorite shows.  You don’t want your spouse to know, so you try to make it look like you worked hard all day.

Cognitive dissonance examples in TV shows and movies

Many television shows and movies feature characters experiencing cognitive dissonance.  Examples to consider include:

  • Mean girls
  • Friends
  • The Truman shows
  • Irresistible
  • Support me

 Due To Cognitive Dissonance

There are many different conditions that can create conflicts that lead to cognitive dissonance.

Forced Compliance

Because of external demands at work, school, or in a social setting, you could occasionally find yourself acting in ways that go against your own values. 2. Examples of this may be giving in to peer pressure or acting in a certain way at work to keep your job.

Newest Details

Cognitive dissonance can occasionally result from learning new knowledge. For instance, you could experience discomfort if you engage in an activity that you subsequently realise is bad. People sometimes respond to this by seeking justifications for their actions or judgments, as well as strategies for discounting or ignoring new information.


People make decisions both big and small on a daily basis.  When faced with two similar

choices, we are often left with feelings of incompatibility because both options are equally attractive.

Once choices are made, however, people need to find a way to reduce these feelings of discomfort.  We accomplish this by justifying why our choice was the best so that we can believe we made the right decision.


Cognitive dissonance can be caused by feeling compelled to do something, learning new information, or facing a decision between two similar choices.

What effects of cognitive dissonance?

  • The level of dissonance felt might vary depending on a few distinct things. The importance of a particular belief and the degree of belief inconsistency are two examples.
  • The overall strength of dissonance can also be affected by a number of factors, including:
  • Importance attached to each belief.
  • Cognitions that are more personal, such as beliefs about oneself, and highly valued result in greater dissonance.

 Number of inconsistent assumptions.

The more inconsistent (confrontational) thoughts you have, the greater the strength of the dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance can often have a powerful effect on our behavior and actions.  It doesn’t just affect how you feel;  It also prompts you to take action to reduce feelings of discomfort.

Related Reading: What is autism?

What Does Cognitive Dissonance Feel Like

Cognitive dissonance can make people feel uncomfortable and uneasy.  This is especially true if the disparity between their beliefs and behaviors involves something that is central to their sense of self.

For example of cognitive dissonance, behaving in ways that do not align with your personal values ​​can result in intense feelings of discomfort.  Your behavior is contrary not only to your beliefs about the world, but also to the beliefs you have about yourself.

This discomfort can manifest in different ways.  Someone with cognitive dissonance may feel:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Repentance
  • The sadness
  • Shame
  • Stress

Cognitive dissonance can also affect how people feel and see themselves, leading to negative feelings of self-esteem and self-worth.

Effect of cognitive dissonance

Because people want to avoid discomfort, cognitive dissonance can have a wide range of effects.  Inconsistency can play a role in how we act, think, and make decisions.  We may engage in behavior or take approaches to help us overcome the discomfort caused by the conflict.

Some things a person can do to deal with these feelings include:

Adopting beliefs or ideas to help justify or explain the conflict between one’s beliefs or practices.  This can sometimes involve blaming other people or external factors.

keeping one’s ideas or actions a secret from others. In order to lessen feelings of guilt and shame, people who have contradictory beliefs and actions may choose to keep them a secret from others.

Seeking only information that confirms existing beliefs.  This phenomenon, known as confirmation bias, affects the ability to think critically about a situation but helps reduce feelings of dissonance.

People want to think of themselves as rational, consistent, and capable decision-makers. Because cognitive dissonance may conflict with people’s ideas of who they are and what they are capable of, it frequently causes discomfort and unpleasantness.

How to handle cognitive dissonance

  • People will take action to lessen the dissonance and uncomfortable sensations when their ideas, beliefs, and views are at odds. There are several approaches they can take.
  • Adding New Beliefs to Dispelling Conflicting Beliefs
  • If they operate a gas-guzzler, people who hear that greenhouse gases cause global warming can feel dissonant. They can look for fresh information that refutes the notion that greenhouse gases cause global warming in order to lessen this discrepancy.
  • downplaying the importance of conflicting beliefs
  • A person who cares about their health may be upset to learn that prolonged sitting during the day is linked to a shorter lifespan. Since they work all day in the office and spend a lot of time sitting, it is difficult to change their behaviour.
  • To deal with feelings of discomfort, they may find some way to rationalize the conflicting cognition. For example, they may justify their sedentary behavior by saying that their other healthy behaviors—such as eating sensibly and exercising occasionally—make up for their largely sedentary lifestyle.

 Changing Beliefs

Changing conflicting cognitions is one of the most effective ways to deal with dissonance, but it is also one of the most difficult—especially in the case of deeply held values ​​and beliefs, such as religious or political leanings.


Some ways to reduce discomfort from cognitive dissonance include obtaining information that aligns with and supports current beliefs, reducing the importance of conflicting beliefs, and changing beliefs to reduce feelings of conflict.  Is.

Possible disadvantages of cognitive dissonance

  • Sometimes, the way people resolve cognitive dissonance contributes to unhealthy behaviors or poor decisions.
  • In “A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance”, Leon Festinger (the psychologist who first described this phenomenon) gives an example of how one might deal with dissonance related to health behaviors by discussing individuals who continue to smoke, even if Only they know that it is injurious to their health.
  • According to Festinger, there are a few ways a person can resolve this dissonance.
  • They may decide that they value smoking more than they value health, considering the behavior “worth it” in terms of risk versus reward.
  • They may underestimate potential drawbacks, such as by reassuring themselves that negative health effects have been exaggerated or by believing that they cannot avoid every possible risk.
  • They may try to convince themselves that if they stop smoking, they will gain weight, which also presents a health risk.
  • These forms of justifications enable the smoker to lessen cognitive dissonance and carry on with the dangerous activity.

History Of Cognitive Dissonance

Leon Festinger first proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance, which focused on how people try to reach internal consistency.  He suggested that people have an internal need to ensure that their beliefs and behaviors are consistent.  Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs lead to animosity that people try to avoid.

In his 1957 book, “A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance,” Festinger explained, “cognitive dissonance can be viewed as a predisposing condition that leads to activity oriented toward a reduction in dissonance such as in decreased appetite.  Lack leads to oriented activity. This is a very different motivation from what psychologists are used to dealing with, but, as we shall see, powerful, nonetheless.

 Very Nice One Word

Cognitive dissonance plays a role in many value judgments, judgments, and evaluations.  Being aware of how conflicting beliefs affect the decision-making process is a great way to improve your ability to make faster and more accurate choices.

The mismatch between your beliefs and actions can lead to feelings of discomfort (and, sometimes, coping with choices that have negative effects), but such feelings can also sometimes lead to change and growth.

Also Read: 
How Wild Can A Person Be For The Physical Beauty Of Females?
Different Body Sizes of Women?
What is an intellectual disability?

Written by

Greetings, I am Dr. Ashutosh Tripathi, a psychologist with extensive expertise in criminal behavior and its impact on psychological well-being. I hold a Master of Physics (Honors), a Master of Philosophy, a Master of Psychology, and a PhD in Psychology from BHU in India.Over the past 13 years, I have been privileged to serve more than 3200 patients with unique and varied psychological needs. My clinical work is guided by a deep passion for helping individuals navigate complex psychological issues and live more fulfilling lives.As a recognized contributor to the field of psychology, my articles have been published in esteemed Indian news forums, such as The Hindu, The Times of India, and Punjab Kesari. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been honored by the Government of Israel for my contributions to the Psychological Assistance Program.I remain committed to advancing our understanding of psychology and its applications through my ongoing research, which can be found on leading online libraries such as Science Direct, Wiley, Elsevier, Orcid, Google Scholar, and loop Frontiers. I am also an active contributor to Quora, where I share my insights on various psychological issues.Overall, I see myself as a lifelong student of psychology, constantly learning and growing from my patients, colleagues, and peers. I consider it a great privilege to have the opportunity to serve others in this field and to contribute to our collective understanding of the human mind and behavior.

Related Articles

What to Know About Childhood Autism

A spectrum of disorders known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including asperger...

Definition and History of Dark Psychology

What is Dark Psychology? Dark Psychology is the use of psychological techniques...

The Relationship Between Attitudes and Behavior: Explained in Detail

Abstract: This blog post explores the relationship between attitudes and behavior. Attitudes...

What is autism?

A developmental disease known as autism, often known as autism spectrum disorder,...