The definition of the phrase cognitive dissonance is:
The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.
In simple speak, cognitive dissonance is a form of plain ol’ hypocrisy – but on a deeper level. It is the discomfort we feel when holding two (or more) opposite stances.
Think of “dissonance” as contradictions. And “cognitive” is conscious thought. So we are fully aware of our hypocrisy.
The best example of cognitive dissonance is eating meat – most of all would never hurt a cute, furry animal… but we enjoy eating steak.
In another example, people who smoke do so knowing that smoking causes major health issues.
Most people who drive gas-guzzlin’ SUVs suffer cognitive dissonance. They get a car that gets poor gas mileage, yet justify it by sometimes riding a bike or taking public transportation.
This short video goes into the weeds about cognitive dissonance: