cognitive dissonance


Definition of cognitive dissonance 

: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously

Examples of cognitive dissonance in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Like all of us, Pusha is a victim of his own cognitive dissonance. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 Kennedy was always a conservative, but his tenure was marked by a cognitive dissonance about his ideological leanings and by the Court’s own persistent march to the right. Andrew Cohen, The New Republic, "Anthony Kennedy Was No Moderate," 27 June 2018 My students, encountering Drayton for the first time, often have a moment of cognitive dissonance. Aziz Huq, Vox, "The latest Supreme Court decision is being hailed as a big victory for digital privacy. It’s not.," 22 June 2018 Raniere also stressed that departing members were under the sway of the scientific principle of cognitive dissonance. Vanessa Grigoriadis, New York Times, "The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment," 30 May 2018 Walker unearths another near-miracle of cognitive dissonance in his investigation of the Gulag archipelago, which remains outside the purview of Russian national memory. Sophie Pinkham, The New Republic, "Why have post-Soviet countries embraced populism and nostalgia?," 3 May 2018 This frustrating cognitive dissonance — loyalty to a show that has never done right by people who look like you — is learned from every aspect of a culture intent on ghettozing stories by and about people of color. Hunter Harris,, "Sex And The City," 6 June 2018 The question was how the swing justice, Anthony Kennedy—author of four landmark rights rulings on gender and sexuality, and a staunch protector of religious liberty—would address his own cognitive dissonance. The Economist, "The Supreme Court’s artful dodge over gay wedding cakes," 5 June 2018 Many more staffers have left on similarly bad terms, poached by competing publications or repelled by the cognitive dissonance of doing good work for bad owners. John Wenzel, The Atlantic, "The Gutting of The Denver Post is a Death Knell for Local News," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cognitive dissonance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cognitive dissonance

1957, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cognitive dissonance

Share cognitive dissonance

Statistics for cognitive dissonance

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cognitive dissonance

The first known use of cognitive dissonance was in 1957

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cognitive dissonance

cognitive dissonance


Medical Definition of cognitive dissonance 

: psychological conflict resulting from simultaneously held incongruous beliefs and attitudes (as a fondness for smoking and a belief that it is harmful)

More from Merriam-Webster on cognitive dissonance Encyclopedia article about cognitive dissonance

Comments on cognitive dissonance

What made you want to look up cognitive dissonance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!