What is Cognitive Dissonance?

In the work I have been doing recently and with clients, I have had a bit of cognitive dissonance arise. So today, I wanted to share some information on what it is.


What is Cognitive Dissonance?

Psychologist Leon Festinger was the person who discovered cognitive dissonance. Tt is a term often used in psychology and some definitions include –

  • “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like, as when one likes a person but disapproves strongly of one of his or her habits.” ~ Dictionary.com
  • “the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information” ~ Brittanica.com
  • “psychological tension that occurs when one holds mutually exclusive beliefs or attitudes and that often motivates people to modify their thoughts or behaviors in order to reduce the tension.” ~ the Free Medical Dictionary

Another few words that could be used instead of dissonance, could be conflict, discord or disagreement.


Where Can Cognitive Dissonance Occur?

Cognitive dissonance can occur in many situations. Some examples include –

  • People promoting a behaviour (i.e. movement or gratitude), however not practising it themselves,
  • Individual’s choosing to smoke, even though they know the health risks of smoking,
  • Eating particular foods, even though you feel sick after eating them.
  • Knowing the importance of staying in contact with friends and family, however not making the time or effort to connect.


Ways to Transform Cognitive Dissonance

One of the things to remember is most people (unless they are enlightened) experience cognitive dissonance (so be kind to yourself). The extent to which we experience depends on the individual. Like most change, awareness is the first step. Once we discover the conflicts, we can then make conscious compassionate and I’mPowering choices about whether or not we want to change.

If the choice to transform is made we can make tiny tweaks and align these with our values, purpose and whole-hearted vision for life. For example – a person may start practising gratitude as they know it helps them connect more with people and feel better as well as aligning to their whole-hearted vision of life.

However, sometimes change can be challenging and Festinger identified three circumstances which make it difficult for a person to change. They are –

1. “The change may be painful or involve loss.”

2. “The present behavior may be otherwise satisfying.”

3. “Making the change may simply not be possible.” (Festinger, 1957).


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insights in to cognitive dissonance. Do you have any comments or questions? If so, feel free to share your responses or questions below.


Also, if you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?

Reference –

Festinger, L. (1957). An Introduction to the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.panarchy.org/festinger/dissonance.html

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field