Cognitive consistency is a psychological theory that proposes that humans are motivated by inconsistencies and a desire to change them. Cognitive inconsistencies cause imbalance in individuals and the tension from this imbalance motivates people to alter these inconsistencies. The tension arises when thoughts conflict with each other and this tension creates a motivation to change and correct the inconsistency. When this tension is reduced balance is achieved in the individual.
The three main components of this theory state that people anticipate consistency, inconsistencies create imbalance and dissonance in individuals, and that tension motivates the individuals to create consistency in order to achieve balance.