- Leon Festinger
Cognitive dissonance theory postulates that an underlying psychological tension is created when an individual’s behavior is inconsistent with his or her thoughts and beliefs. This underlying tension then motivates an individual to make an attitude change that would produce consistency between thoughts and behaviors. Research has shown that when an individual engages in behaviors that are inconsistent with their attitude or belief (e.g., arguing a counter-attitudinal position on a topic), a change in attitude is produced that is consistent in the direction of his or her behavior. This mechanism of thought or attitude change is the same mechanism used to produce changes in negative, irrational thoughts that are involved in the maintenance of depression and related disorders.