Cognitive Dissonance

Definition 1

Cognitive dissonance, an important concept in social psychology (Festinger, 1957), refers to the uncomfortable tension that can exist between two simultaneous and conflicting ideas or feelings—often as a person realizes that s/he has engaged in a behavior inconsistent with the type of person s/he would like to be, or be seen publicly to be. According to the theory, people are motivated to reduce this tension by changing their attitudes, beliefs, or actions. For example, smokers may rationalize their behavior by holding ‘self-exempting beliefs’, such as “The medical evidence that smoking causes cancer is not convincing” or “Many people who smoke all their lives live to a ripe old age, so smoking is not all that bad for you” (Chapman et al., 1993).

Source: Behavioral Economics

Definition 2