Dissonance theory

When you or I willingly do something that we know might not be the best thing to do for ourselves or for others it’s called cognitive dissonance.

Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory essentially says that we all have an inner desire/drive to keep our attitudes and behaviors in harmony and do what’s needed to avoid disharmony (dissonance).

While we might not be so technical in describing our behaviors, the reason dissonance theory is so useful is because it’s so true. When someone in an organization makes a costly decision about something or someone, and that decision can’t be reversed and it’s causing great levels of dissonance, the tendency is to convince oneself why making that decision was the right thing to do.

This is why feedback is so important – simply because we can’t or won’t always see things through a lens that is entirely impartial. We usually try and get feedback from others who’ve gone before us and done the very thing we’re considering.


Maybe the better choice is to get feedback from those that haven’t gone before us, where there is no dissonance to deal with.

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