An approach – approach conflict is when you are confronted with two equally attractive alternatives but you can only choose one of them. The good thing about this type of a problem is that either way, you’ll have a positive experience.
For example, your favorite musical group is giving a free concert in the park for one day only, but it’s the same afternoon as your best friend’s baby shower. You don’t want to miss out on either event, but you can only pick one.
An avoidance-avoidance conflict is when you are confronted with two equally unattractive alterrnatives. Again, you must pick only one. This is a tougher dilemma in that whatever you choose is going to involve stress.
For example, “If I don’t want to spend today studying for my final exams, I must work on my income taxes.”
Cognitive dissonance occurs when you have conflicting feelings about something you’ve you’re going to do or have done. For instance, in the approach approach conflict above, let’s say you think, “I’ll go to my friend’s shower,” but as soon as you say that you feel disappointed. Feeling disappointed about a choice that should make you happy is the cognitive dissonance. Or, you think, “I’ll go to the rock concert,” but as soon as you say that you feel guilty about missing the your friend’s party. The guilt is the cognitive dissonance.
Here’s another: your dog (or cat) is very, very old, very sick and in a lot of pain. The vet tells you his condition is terminal and that there is nothing that can be done about it. You can let him suffer until he dies a natural death, or you can put him down. (Avoid-avoid situation) Out of love for your pet, you decide to relieve his misery. Still, afterwards you feel guilty about it. That's another example of cognitive dissonance.