Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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People experience cognitive dissonance on a day-to-day basis at varying strengths. Think about the number of times that you have felt conflicted with a choice or in a situation in your life. Some choices or events weigh heavily on our consciousness because of the prominence of the decision that must be made, while others may be less significant. Think about an addiction you may have such as smoking, or chocolate candy. I love chocolate candy but face cognitive dissonance when I am faced with the choice of eating the chocolate and experiencing the delicious taste for five seconds but also the fact that I will gain weight because chocolate is very unhealthy for me. Similarly, I may be addicted to smoking and face cognitive dissonance when I am faced with the choice of smoking a cigarette and momentarily satisfying that craving but also the fact that it is extremely dangerous to my health and to the health of those I smoke around. Eating a piece of chocolate is not nearly as bad as smoking a cigarette, and it is evident that the significance of the dissonance varies from one decision to another. Regardless of the level of significance, we see that cognitive dissonance is a commonality that every person is faced with quite frequently. It is Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory that explains why and how one can reduce cognitive dissonance in all aspects of his or her life, in association with varying levels and numbers of dissonant cognitions. Description of Theory Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory is perhaps one of the most famous theories in the field of social sciences. According to Festinger, “dissonance occurs when one cognitive element is inconsistent with another cognitive element” (Sereno, 2014, Chapter 7, ... ... middle of paper ... ...nitive dissonance theory sheds light on a experience that individuals face ever-so commonly. Festinger uses his research to assess why cognitive dissonance exists and how we can drive to reduce it. The theory has real-world applicability, which is instrumental in its success. We experience cognitive dissonance every day, sometimes without even realizing it. As we saw, Nancy’s scenario showed that cognitive dissonance can occur in a much more significant way than trivial decisions we make on a day to day basis. She is the epitome of someone who faces cognitive dissonance in the workplace, as many of us do. Festinger’s theory give readers ways to reduce such dissonance, while offering an explanation as to why and how it occurs. Thus to a larger extent, this theory proved to be extremely valuable to individuals who experience cognitive dissonance on a day to day basis.
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