Cognitive dissonance is essentially the occurrence or possession of conflicting beliefs and the desire to eliminate one belief for another. People dislike disharmony and strive to avoid the conflict as much as possible at all times. Psychologist, Leon Festinger said it best one of his books “Cognitive dissonance can be seen as an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented toward dissonance reduction just as hunger leads toward activity oriented toward hunger reduction.”
There are many examples of cognitive dissonance that can be provided to present you with a greater understanding of the actual problem. For example, Man should take care to protect the environment, yet he drives a non-eco-friendly car. This is a conflicting statement as the man should be protecting the environment and yet his car harms the environment, this can cause cognitive dissonance. When dealing with this and attempting to relieve the dissonance, the man has a few choices. He can sell his car and buy a more eco-friendly one, he can minimize his belief in being eco-friendly, or he can spend more time using eco-friendly transportation such as bike riding or walking.
There are many other examples that can be given for cognitive dissonance as well. Smokers who know that it is bad for their health continue to smoke yet, he enjoys the activity so much that he believes it is worth it, believes the chance of his health declining is slim, or that if he quit he will gain weight. Each idea is consistent except that he knows it is bad for him. Another example is planning a dinner party and once you have put in all the work of sending invitations, shopping, cooking, and various other prep activities. Your guest show up late, food is overdone, and all conversation is forced or non-existent. This can lead to a state of cognitive dissonance for you as you hoped the conversations would be pleasant, the food would be amazing, and that your guests would be on time.
There are going to be times in our lives where we will feel cognitive dissonance, however it is important to keep in mind that even though this inner conflict may be occurring we can always work through it. This may mean changing our beliefs, reducing the importance of a belief, or focus on the pros and cons of that conflicting belief. Working through the cognitive dissonance is always the best way of handling it and relieving the dissonance and displeasure that we feel.