We have several options when our perceptions, convictions, and assumptions of reality are challenged by contradictory ideas or experiences. We can abandon our previous idea and embrace the new one; or we can reject the new idea and keep our old one; or we can adopt the new idea and place it next to our old one and believe in them both even though they contradict each other. The final option is truly where cognitive dissonance occurs.
Now, cognitive dissonances can be alleviated by all sorts of mental tricks including, but not limited to, rationalization for, justification of, and even rejection of the contradiction between the two conflicting beliefs. Though these defense mechanisms do often reduce the psychological stress the dissonance causes, they are dangerous tools because they are essentially lame attempts to renegotiate reality. In other words, the pain reality causes is sidestepped or assuaged through adjustments that basically dismiss the validity of reality.
But here's the thing - the West has become biggest and most effective reality-denying system the world has ever known. Acknowledging reality is not only frowned upon, but punished, whereas embracing unreality is celebrated and rewarded. In other words, the most successful, praised, and celebrated people in the West are those who hold the uncanny ability believe in nothing but that which contradicts reality; that is, they believe in nothing but unreality. But do such people truly feel any sense of cognitive dissonance? Do they feel any mental discomfort or psychological stress or does that disappear when one abandons reality in favor of unreality?
If so, then cognitive dissonance might be going the way of the dodo; hand-in-hand with the West.