What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

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Kendra Cherry, MSEd


Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes unpleasant feelings of unease or discomfort.

The inconsistency between what people believe and how they behave motivates them to engage in actions that will help minimize feelings of discomfort. People attempt to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information.

Dissonance can play a role in how we act, think, and make decisions. We may engage in behaviors or adopt attitudes to help relieve the discomfort caused by the conflict.

Some things that a person might do to cope with these feelings include:

  • Adopting beliefs or ideas to help justify or explain away the conflict between their beliefs or behaviors. This can sometimes involve blaming other people or outside factors.
  • Hiding beliefs or behaviors from other people. People may feel ashamed of their conflicting beliefs and behaviors, hiding the disparity from others to minimize feelings of shame and guilt.
  • Only seeking out information that confirms existing beliefs. This phenomenon, known as confirmation bias, affects the ability to think critically about a situation but helps minimize feelings of dissonance.

People like to believe that they are logical, consistent, and good at making decisions. Cognitive dissonance can interfere with the perceptions they hold about themselves and their abilities, which is why it can often feel so uncomfortable and unpleasant.




Publication Date:



“Cognitive Dissonance and Ways to Resolve It.” Verywell Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-cognitive-dissonance-2795012


Leaving High-Control Groups


Amanda Morton

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Your loved one continues to believe the Storm is coming, despite years of failed prophecy. You wonder why they continue to double down after each Q prediction turns up empty.

When prophecy fails, believers are forced to evaluate--should I change my belief, or find some reason to continue believing despite the evidence?

The tension they feel when presented with conflicting evidence is called cognitive dissonance.

Generally when someone (anyone, not just conspiracy theorists) is confronted with strong evidence that de-bunks a deeply held belief, you tend to look for facts that confirms your original belief (confirmation bias).

No one likes being wrong!

But sometimes admitting that something isn't working and finding solutions is the best thing you can do.

Try to guide your loved one towards recognizing the ways their conspiracy beliefs are harming them. Ask them if they feel they are living according to their values, or if they feel there's a disconnect that needs to be solved.