One example of when I experienced cognitive dissonance (McLeod, 2008) was when one of my friends, Dave, told me about his complaints about another friend, Maria. Dave told me these things in confidence. I advised him to tell Maria about how he felt but he refused and asked me not to tell Maria. However, I felt that Maria should know so I told her about Dave’s negative comments about her.
The inconsistent cognitions in this case were my belief about the importance of not breaking someone’s trust and confidence and my other belief that Maria had a right to know about what was being said about her.
I reduced the dissonance by changing my perception of the action or by rationalizing (“Cognitive Dissonance,” n.d.). I rationalized that if Maria didn’t know about Dave’s comments then the situation might not be remedied. Since Dave and Maria weren’t talking, I rationalized that I could be the one to communicate their feelings towards each other so that their friendship might be salvaged.
On the other hand, the type of person who would not find any dissonance in this situation is the person who does not accord much importance on the value of trust or trustworthiness. People who love to gossip with no regard to the consequences also wouldn’t find any dissonance in this case.
Finally, I think that I can avoid justifying a discrepant act by evaluating situations more objectively, by holding more firmly to my values and beliefs, and by accepting and acknowledging my mistakes. I will try to emotionally detach myself from the situation so that I may be able to see the situation more clearly.
Cognitive dissonance. (n.d.). Retrieved from
McLeod, S. (2008). Cognitive dissonance. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/