Cognitive dissonance is a state of conflicting beliefs or thoughts that cause discomfort. Psychologist Leon Festinger introduced the concept of cognitive dissonance, theorizing that people find this state uncomfortable because they need congruency between beliefs and behaviors. In his 1957 book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger proposes the state is a powerful force that motivates us to act to remedy the conflicting actions and beliefs.
Dissonance affects people when the intensity of a person’s belief system contrasts with their behavior. According to the theory, it is this discomfort that motivates us to change our behavior to match our beliefs. People may be influenced in this way by their personal beliefs about the self, beliefs that are of great importance, the ratio of cognitive dissonance to consonant thoughts, and the strength of the dissonance.
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