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Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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    Cognitive Dissonance Theory

    Cognitive dissonance means to have a conflict in how you think.  Dissonance means to have inconsistency or conflict. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict from holding two or more incompatible beliefs simultaneously. Cognitive dissonance is a relatively straightforward social psychology theory that has enjoyed wide acceptance in a variety of disciplines including communication. The theory replaces previous conditioning or reinforcement theories by viewing individuals as more purposeful decision makers; they strive for balance in their beliefs. If presented with decisions or information that create dissonance, they use dissonance-reduction strategies to regain equilibrium, especially if the dissonance affects their self-esteem.

    The theory suggests the following:

    1. Dissonance is psychologically uncomfortable enough to motivate people to achieve consonance
    2. When in a state of dissonance, people will avoid information and situations that might increase the dissonance.