Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term which describes the uncomfortable tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs. It is also a description of the behaviors that allow you to override such dissonance. A very simple example of this involves the act of giving blood. You are there, it is uncomfortable, but you know it is a good and necessary thing to do. So when asked “Are you comfortable”, you lie without thinking and say “Everything is fine”. You may even exaggerate and say out loud with a smile on your face, “It’s great”, even though there is a 19 inch needle in your arm. Then, having said you are fine, your brain subconsciously begins to convince yourself you are fine to alleviate the cognitive dissonance. This entire process is studied under the rubric of “cognitive dissonance”.
Leon Festinger (1957) proposed cognitive dissonance theory, which states that a powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior. According to Festinger, we hold many cognitions about the world and ourselves; when they clash, a discrepancy is evoked, resulting in a state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. As the experience of dissonance is unpleasant, we are motivated to reduce or eliminate it, and achieve consonance (i.e. agreement).
For Example :
Cognitive dissonance can occur in many areas of life, but it is particularly evident in situations where an individual’s behavior conflicts with beliefs that are integral to his or her self-identity. For example, consider a situation in which a woman who values financial security is in a relationship with a man who is financially irresponsible.
It is important for her to be financially secure.
She is dating a man who is financially unstable.
In order to reduce this dissonance between belief and behavior, she can either leave the relationship or reduce her emphasis on financial security. In the case of the second option, dissonance could be further minimized by emphasizing the positive qualities of her significant other rather than focusing on his perceived flaws.A more common example of cognitive dissonance occurs in the purchasing decisions we make on a regular basis. Most people want to hold the belief that they make good choices. When a product or item we purchase turns out badly, it conflicts with our previously existing belief about our decision-making abilities.
But how can we overcome this dissonance? Either by changing our behaviour or our attitude.