for those of us that are not as smart as mr. einsteinCognitive dissonance
is a psychological
term describing the uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one's beliefs, or from experiencing apparently conflicting phenomena.
In simple terms, it can be the filtering of information that conflicts with what you already believe, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce your beliefs. In detailed terms, it is the perception
of incompatibility between two cognitions
, where "cognition" is defined as any element of knowledge
, including attitude
, or behavior
. The theory of cognitive dissonance states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions. Experiments have attempted to quantify this hypothetical drive. Some of these have examined how beliefs often change to match behavior when beliefs and behavior are in conflict.Social psychologist Leon Festinger
first proposed the theory in 1957 after the publication of his book When Prophecy Fails
, observing the counterintuitive belief persistence of members of a UFO
and their increased proselytization
after the leader's prophecy failed. The failed message of earth's destruction, purportedly sent by aliens to a woman in 1956, became a disconfirmed expectancy
that increased dissonance between cognitions, thereby causing most members of the impromptu cult to lessen the dissonance by accepting a new prophecy: that the aliens had instead spared the planet for their sake.
Studies have not so far detected any gender or cross-cultural differences.<SUP class=reference id=_ref-0>