Cognitive Dissonance: Mental Discomfort


Cognitive dissonance is related to one’s mental discomfort, on conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours. A feeling of mental balance, restoration of one’s actions to reduce mental discomfort.

The Science:


In 1957 Festinger ran an experiment to test people’s inconsistencies on the belief of one’s environment. As well as belief system and attitudes. Festinger states that cognitive dissonance can be an antecedent condition. 

Festinger explains it as reduction in hunger, leading to reduce the dissonances in one’s mind. Conflicting morals leads to two thoughts or emotions on a subject or a decision. Challenging one’s self’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours as a pathway to a solution. Sometimes leading to counter intuitiveness, going against one’s self.

  • Forced compliance
  • Decisions
  • Exerted effort
  • Stubborn attitude

Science Examples:


The induced compliance effect, Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) asked individuals to perform 30 minutes of a mind-numbingly tedious activity, and then to persuade a waiting participant that the activity was in fact quite interesting

Cognitive Dissonance – Science Direct

The focus of cognitive dissonance, is forced compliance, it can have a negative effect on one’s attitude. Decisions, making the right choice in uncomfortable situations. 

Exerted effort making and effort with zero reward, was the effort worth it? Attitude, as you want to do it your way because you see the way someone else wants it completed seems unsafe.

decision making cognitive dissonance
Decision-making cognitive dissonance

The Conversation:

Real life discussion

We all have those times in where we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Having to make a decision we don’t want to make, but we have to. Deciding between two questionable acts against our own moral beliefs.

Creating a mental discomfort in where we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. Leading to us to have to make an on the spot decisions that we never though of being in. 

Convincing someone something is great when it’s something one is not interested in. An example, I like motorsports, I start randomly talking to someone whose not interested, they listen intently to be polite. However, the mental discomfort has them wanting to run for the hills and never see me again. 

In the workplace, when the manager asks if you can do something outside of job description. It’s the manager whose asking, but it’s not my job. But you do it because you’re getting paid.

Social Media

With social media, we are coming into contact with more information or misinformation. Where we have to take in what we believe is to be true, but is it? A decision based on attitude, behaviours and beliefs. 


Gaining experience in life to discern between one’s own morals. Learning from reading, listening and most importantly environmental situational experience. 

Gaining knowledge and understanding of the world around you from learned experiences will reduce dissonance. As you will have more self awareness and a broader understanding of different attitudes and behaviours.  


Cognitive dissonance is common in society, we face decisions each day based on morals and ethics. Decision-making based on principles versus comfort can be hard, we see this with COVID-19 vaccines. I don’t need or want it, but if you want to be safe and make other people safe, we need to take it. 

Cognitive dissonance is about how we perceive situations and the environment when ambiguity on making a decision to a solution to reduce discomfort.


Cognitive Dissonance – Psychology Today

Cognitive Dissonance – Science Direct

A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance – Festinger


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