Dissonance increases with:
- The importance of the subject to us.
- How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
- Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.
Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions:
- Change our behavior.
- Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
- Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.