Cognitive Dissonance

The theory of cognitive dissonance was proposed by Leon Festinger in 1957. The theory represents an explanation of conflict situations that often arise in the cognitive structure of one person. The theory seeks to explain and explore the state of cognitive dissonance that occurs in humans, as a reaction to a certain situation, the actions of individuals or the whole team, their internal state and emotions. Cognitive dissonance is a state of the individual, characterized by a clash in his mind of the contradictory knowledge, beliefs, attitudes concerning an object or phenomenon, in which the existence of an element implies the rejection of another, and the resulting mismatch sense of incompleteness of life. The notion of “cognitive dissonance” was first introduced by Leon Festinger in 1956.


All in all, cognitive dissonance theory is currently one of the important areas in social psychology. A classic experiment conducted by Leon Festinger showed the existence of cognitive dissonance, which describes the ways to smooth or eliminate the contradictions, and describes how a person does this in typical situations. It is understandable that people, who can much easier accept the status quo, could be adjusted to its internal installation for the given situation, rather than continue to suffer. It is clear that the existence of dissonance, regardless of its strength, forces people to get rid of it completely, but if for some reason it is not yet possible, it can be significantly reduced. To reduce dissonance, people may resort to the four modes: to change their behavior, to change the “cognition”, that is, to convince themselves otherwise, and to filter incoming information regarding this issue or a problem. Development of the first method includes that people apply to the criterion of truth to the information received, to acknowledge their mistakes and act in accordance with the new, more complete and clear understanding of the problem. Often the dissonance arises as a consequence of making important decisions. The choice of two equally attractive alternatives given to a person is not easy, but making, at last, this choice, the person often begins to feel “dissonant cognitions”, for example the positive aspects of the option, which he refused, and not very positive features than agreed. In order to suppress (weaken) a dissonance, a person tries every effort to exaggerate the materiality of his decision, while diminishing the importance of the rejected. Consequently, another alternative is losing all charm in his eyes.