Cognitive Dissonance Theory an overview

Such cognitions can be about behaviors, perceptions, attitudes, emotions, and beliefs. If the cognitions are relevant, they can be in agreement (consistent) or disagreement (inconsistent) with one another (Festinger, 1957). Study participants who complete an uninteresting task have been found to rate the task as more enjoyable if they were first asked to tell someone else it was enjoyable—an effect attributed to cognitive dissonance. Theoretically, dissonance may contribute to a variety of changes in behavior or beliefs.

This procedure was intended to increase the salience of the environmental protection norm (Stone & Fernandez, 2008). Participants were then instructed to write a short essay in favour of the protection of the environment. It was mentioned that their essay could be as long as they wished and that they could inspire themselves with the provided list of quotations if needed. Participants had no time limit to write their essay and it was emphasized that the content of their essay was the main focus of the research. It is possible to resolve cognitive dissonance by either changing one’s behavior or changing one’s beliefs so they are consistent with each other. The theory is based on the idea that two cognitions can be relevant or irrelevant to each other (Festinger, 1957).

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Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) investigated if making people perform a dull task would create cognitive dissonance through forced compliance behavior. Evidence that the production of aversive consequences is not necessary to create cognitive dissonance. Interaction between the number of reported behaviours and the experimental condition on reports of Pleasure, Arousal and Dominance. Avoiding, delegitimizing, and limiting the impact of cognitive dissonance may result in a person not acknowledging their behavior and thus not taking steps to resolve the dissonance. The effects may relate to the discomfort of the dissonance itself or the defense mechanisms a person adopts to deal with it.

  • Expectations of the bitterness and pungency of the oil were found to differ depending upon the regional information provided about the oil.
  • Some studies also investigated moderators, such as income and product involvement (Gbadamosi, 2009), on consumer decision making.
  • More importantly, it also provided the first testable framework in which to conceptualize how cognition could be motivated and how the motivated cognition could yield some intriguing forms of social behavior.
  • I, for example, still feel dissonance over writing this blog post promoting my new edited book.
  • This offers opportunities to discuss the discrepancies, deepen the relationship, and re-align values.
  • That is, temporal distance might have affected the availability of BJW-defense strategies that required different modes of thinking.

Examples of such inconsistencies or dissonance could include someone who litters despite caring about the environment, someone who tells a lie despite valuing honesty, or someone who makes an extravagant purchase, but believes in frugality. Asyncronicities at the interpersonal level may occur in the family environment, too. Robert S. Albert and Runco argued that incongruent parent–child relations can create tension, which enables the child to develop autonomy. From a factual standpoint, loose relationships of eminent physical and biological scientists with their parents as well as findings regarding the high rates of parental loss in the exceptionally gifted population seem to support this hypothesis.

The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance: A Current Perspective1

It causes a feeling of discomfort that can motivate people to try to feel better. For participants who were not asked to lie, and for participants who lied in exchange for $20, they tended to report that the study indeed wasn’t very interesting. After all, participants who had told a lie for $20 felt that they could justify the lie because they were paid relatively well (in other words, receiving the large sum of cognitive dissonance theory money reduced their feelings of dissonance). Only scant research has investigated multiple dissonance reduction strategies simultaneously (McGrath, 2017). However, in general, the likelihood that a particular cognition will change is determined by its resistance to change, which is based on its responsiveness to reality and the extent to which it is consonant with other cognitions (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 2019).

  • Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a person holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time.
  • Experiencing cognitive dissonance can lead people to try to reduce their feelings of discomfort —sometimes in surprising or unexpected ways.

Defenses can mitigate sudden unresolvable conflict with important people, living or dead. Finally, defenses can mitigate conflict due to social learning or conscience. Defense mechanisms (sometimes called adaptive mental mechanisms) reduce conflict and cognitive dissonance during sudden changes in internal and external reality. If such changes in reality are not ‘distorted’ and ‘denied,’ they can result in disabling anxiety and/or depression. Choice of defense is involuntary but can lead to enormous differences in mental health. Dissonance can also be experienced vicariously through people of a social group that we identify with.

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