In would agree with most of the class in saying that this article was poorly writen and very difficult to understand even having gone over this topic in a different class last year. But having read it it would seem that the main idea behind the theory of cognitive dissonance is hold two different conflicting ideas at the same time. For instance if a person believed that littering was bad this person would feel dissonance if this person was to litter. The only way that this dissonance would resolve itself is if one of these ideas gave into the other; in other words either you would have to say maybe littering isn't such a bad thing and someone else will pick it up for me, or you would have to go back and pick this litter up so that your ideal that littering is bad is no longer being tested.
The most interesting part of this article though is when it goes into the experiment being performed. Participants were brought into an experiment that was designed to be very boring, two groups of people were told to give instructions about this task they were going to complete and they were told to tell them that this task was not so bad and somewhat entertaining. Some of the people were told to give the instructions were given a dollar while some others were given twenty dollars. After this task the dissonance level of these individuals were measured and not surprisingly the people given twenty dolars to lie on average had a lower level of dissonance. This shows that levels of dissonance can be lowered if the outcome or payout at the end is greater than the original thought the person had.