This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.

The Level of Dissonance is determined by:
  • The importance of the subject to us.
  • How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
  • Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

Cognitive Dissonance can be used as a very strong motivator in order to change our behavior. In order to release the tension that is caused by this dissonance, on can
  • Change our behavior.
  • Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
  • Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.

If an action has been completed and cannot be undone, then the after-the-fact dissonance compels us to change our beliefs. If beliefs are moved, then the dissonance appears during decision-making, forcing us to take actions we would not have taken before.

Dissonance increases with the importance and impact of the decision, along with the difficulty of reversing it. Discomfort about making the wrong choice of car is bigger than when choosing a lamp.


Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Connection to NHS: Many students who have already committed to a university or have chosen a school that they would like to go to are very well likely to have experienced the cognitive dissonance theory. These students are basically just questioning themselves if it was the right choice for them. This conflicting thought of if the school that you have chosen is right or not is the feeling of dissonance. This same feeling occurs right after you buy a new car. The dissonance is the conflicting thought of if you have chosen the right car.