Essay about Understanding the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance

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The human psyche frequently experiences the phenomena of internal contradiction, followed by an internal struggle for some semblance of balance or consistency (Hall, 1998). Cognitive dissonance acts as motivation for people to behave in a manner that effectively reduces said dissonance and restores balance. Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance explores this occurrence and the subsequent actions that people take in order to create a balance between their ideals. Cognitive dissonance looks at the way people combat contradictions within their minds by actively seeking consistency. For his theory, Festinger refers to cognition as thought/mental processes and dissonance as inconsistency. His famous example is that of an addicted …show more content…
In other words, the degree to which an individual is truly at war with themselves over opposing beliefs/behavior. Festinger recorded three kinds of relationships that form subsequent to experiencing cognitive dissonance: a consonant relationship, consisting of two beliefs/behaviors that have a positive correlation, a dissonant relationship, consisting of two beliefs/behaviors that have a negative correlation, and an irrelevant relationship, consisting of two beliefs/behaviors that have no correlation at all (Festinger 1957). Festinger noted that in order to restore balance, people undergo the process of dissonance reduction. He depicted four manners of dissonance reduction. The first manner of dissonance reduction is changing one’s behavior, a method that forcibly and effectively puts two dissonant beliefs/behaviors in consonance. The second manner of dissonance reduction is justifying the behavior or belief by changing the conditions of the contradiction so that the cognitive dissonance is reduced, even if only momentarily. The third manner of dissonance reduction is justifying the behavior or belief by adding new behaviors or beliefs into the mix that may aid in balancing the conflict. The fourth and final manner of dissonance reduction is denying the existence of the conflict or denying the existence of an behavior/belief that conflicts with a primary behavior/belief, giving merit to the common expression ‘Ignorance is bliss’. Festinger

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