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What Is Cognitive Dissonance? Definition and Examples

According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent. The discomfort is triggered by the person’s belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein they try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort. In A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957), Leon Festinger proposed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency to function mentally in the real world. A person who experiences internal inconsistency https://ecosoberhouse.com/ tends to become psychologically uncomfortable and is motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance. Acharya of Stanford, Blackwell and Sen of Harvard state cognitive dissonance increases when an individual commits an act of violence toward someone from a different ethnic or racial group and decreases when the individual does not commit any such act of violence. Research from Acharya, Blackwell and Sen shows that individuals committing violence against members of another group develop hostile attitudes towards their victims as a way of minimizing cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance resolution depends on episodic memory Scientific Reports – Nature.com

Cognitive dissonance resolution depends on episodic memory Scientific Reports.

Posted: Mon, 23 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT [source]

In order to know the general attitudes of the students, participants were told that they would have to write an essay either in favour of or against an increase in tuition fees. In the Counter-attitudinal condition, all participants were told that they would have to write an essay in favour of an increase in inscription fees. In the Pro-attitudinal condition, participants could freely choose to write either in favour or opposing an increase. In this condition, only seven participants (11%) chose to write in favour of an increase, thus confirming the idea that writing arguments in favour of an increase was counterattitudinal for most students.

A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance – Leon Festinger

For example, a recent study (Mahapatra & Mishra, 2021) showed that customers who faced post-consumption cognitive dissonance took multiple actions to negate the experienced psychological discomfort. They sought support from like-minded people and mentally disconnected from the negative situation to reduce the negative emotions. In other words, an individual can reduce the mental discomfort by changing the inconsistent cognitions, reducing the importance of conflicting elements, acquiring new harmonious elements or increasing the importance of the existing consistent elements. Festinger used the case of a habitual smoker to demonstrate the theory (Festinger, 1962).

  • The predictive dissonance account is highly compatible with the action-motivation model since, in practice, prediction error can arise from unsuccessful behavior.
  • A good example is the prospect of embarrassing ourselves in front of others, such as by forgetting our words during a speech.
  • The tasks were designed to induce a strong, negative, mental attitude in the subjects.
  • This might involve going along with something due to peer pressure or doing something at work to avoid getting fired.
  • For example, behaving in ways that are not aligned with your personal values may result in intense feelings of discomfort.
  • Gawronski and Strack 2012 offers an overview of the cognitive consistency field.

In other words, they were more likely than participants in the other two conditions to increase the attractiveness of the chosen alternative and to decrease the attractiveness of the unchosen alternative. However, if a person finds that they have difficulty stopping a behavior or thinking pattern that is causing them distress, they can seek support from a qualified healthcare professional, such as a primary care doctor or therapist. For example, a person may have to do something they disagree with at work. It occurs in all of us frequently, not just when planning to diet and justifying a doughnut with a delayed diet start.

Personal responsibility

They were then paid either $1 or $20 to tell a waiting participant (a confederate) that the tasks were really interesting. Almost all of the participants agreed to walk into the waiting room and persuade the confederate that the boring experiment would be fun. In their laboratory experiment, they used 71 male students as participants to perform a series of dull tasks (such as turning pegs in a peg board for an hour). Dissonance due to inadequate justification occurs when we invest a significant amount of time, energy, money, or effort, but we receive little or nothing in return on the investment. We may feel as if the effort was a waste or that we were cheated out of our payoff.

The motivation phase focused on the motivational nature of dissonance to reduce the psychological discomfort. Lastly, the discrepancy reduction phase related to dissonance reduction mechanisms. The concept of dissonance is predominantly related to the post-decision or post-purchase situation (Oliver, 2009). The research on this phase commonly cognitive dissonance theory focused on the impacts of post-purchase touchpoints on product or service evaluation (Cohen & Goldberg, 1970), satisfaction (Engel, 1963) intention to repurchase (Hunt, 1970) and the back-out rate (Donnelly & Ivancevich, 1970) of customers. Negative emotion was another concept that has been closely invested with cognitive dissonance.

Ways to Address Cognitive Dissonance

When someone tells a lie and feels uncomfortable about it because he fundamentally sees himself as an honest person, he may be experiencing cognitive dissonance. That is, there is mental discord related to a contradiction between one thought (in this case, knowing he did something wrong) and another (thinking that he is honest). People who learn that greenhouse emissions result in global warming might experience feelings of dissonance if they drive a gas-guzzling vehicle. To reduce this dissonance, they may seek out new information that overrides the belief that greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming. This is particularly true if the disparity between their beliefs and behaviors involves something that is central to their sense of self.

cognitive dissonance theory

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