Leon Festinger (1957) proposed cognitive dissonance theory, which states that a powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior.
Dissonance can be reduced in one of three ways
First, individuals can change one or more of the attitudes, behavior, beliefs etc. so as to make the relationship between the two elements a consonant one.
A second (cognitive) method of reducing dissonance is to acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.
A third way to reduce dissonance is to reduce the importance of the cognitions (i.e. beliefs, attitudes).
dissonance theory does not state that these modes of dissonance reduction will actually work, only that individuals who are in a state of cognitive dissonance will take steps to reduce the extent of their dissonance. One of the points that dissonance theorists are fond of making is that people will go to all sorts of lengths to reduce dissonance.
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