When we feel cognitive dissonance, we have to find a way to deal with the psychological tension. We have an arsenal of tools at our disposal to help us return to cognitive consistency. The following list outlines different ways people seek to reduce dissonance.
To shut out the dissonance, you deny there is a problem. You do this either by ignoring or demeaning the source of the information. You might also deliberately misperceive the confronting position.
You change your existing cognitions to achieve consistency. Most of the time this involves admitting you were wrong and making changes to remedy your errors.
You change your understanding or interpretation of the meaning. This leads you to either modify your own thinking or devalue the importance of the whole matter, considering it unimportant altogether.
You are determined to find a flaw in the other side’s position, to discredit the source, and to seek social or evidentiary support for your own viewpoint. You might attempt to convince the source (if available) of his error. You might also try to convince others you did the right thing.
You separate the attitudes that are in conflict. This compartmentalizes your cognitions, making it easier for you to ignore or even forget the discrepancy. In your mind, what happens in one area of your life (or someone else’s) should not affect the other areas of your life.
You find excuses for why the inconsistency is acceptable. You change your expectations or try to alter what really happened. You also find reasons to justify your behavior or your opinions.