Cognitive Dissonance


Cognitive dissonance is the state of discomfortness that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. 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. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. For example, consider a situation in which a woman who values financial security is in a relationship with a man who is financially irresponsible.

The conflict:

  • 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.

The other best example describing cognitive dissonance is the conflict between knowing smoking is injurious to health and the eagerness to smoke

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