Cognitive Dissonance

The Major Driver of Belief Formation and Behavior

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If our behavior and beliefs aren't in line, we will sabotage ourselves into becoming coherent.

When we learn something new about the world that conflicts with our beliefs or if we learn something about our behavior that conflicts with our sense, we usually experience a psychological state of uneasiness.

Cognitive dissonance is a perceived phenomenon that occurs when we hold contradictory thoughts or beliefs or if what we do isn't in line with what we believe is right to do.

This psychological phenomenon underlies things like self-delusion and self-justification, absurd rationalizations, as well as emotional turmoil — but also positive learning and self-development processes.

To Remember

“When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.”

— Leon Festinger

“Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance.”

— Robert Thurman


➞ This is a great explanatory video about Cognitive Dissonance and how one can deal with it.

➞ In this 5-min. SciShow video, you can learn why cognitive dissonance makes it hard to admit we are wrong and how it is related to other phenomena.

➞ In this article, you can read more about typical real-life examples of cognitive dissonance we all are familiar with.

➞ If you want to go deeper into the science of this psychological phenomenon, go over to Wikipedia.


For a structured list of fascinating booksblogspodcasts, and Youtube channels related to reasoning and psychology, visit

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