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Cognitive Dissonance: Definition, Theory, & Examples

If in their eyes, the group is seen as very attractive or prestigious, their effort and suffering would seem justified and dissonance would decrease. Dissonance typically results when individuals are induced or forced to behave in ways that are inconsistent with their beliefs and attitudes. For example, if a class assignment requires that you debate against a position that you strongly believe in, you would likely feel uncomfortable. Similarly, if your job involves promoting and speaking glowingly about a product that you really dislike, it is fair to assume you would experience some amount of dissonance. Imagine that you see yourself as a fun person who everyone at work likes to be around.

cognitive dissonance theory

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes feelings of unease or discomfort. The method of attitude change proposed by the cognitive dissonance theory can work in all types of real-world settings because people want to avoid feeling contradictions between two attitudes or between their attitudes and behavior. People overwhelmingly want to have their attitudes in line with their behavior, so getting people to engage in a behavior is another way of leading them to change their attitudes.

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Finally, many of the studies supporting the theory of cognitive dissonance have low ecological validity. For example, turning pegs (as in Festinger’s experiment) is an artificial task that doesn’t happen in everyday life. According to social exchange theory, perceived benefits in the form of incentives to participate must outweigh the costs of participation (i.e., the time and effort to complete the survey). Perceived benefits include both material incentives like cash payments, free gifts or prize draws and intangible ones such as feelings of enjoyment or a sense of social contribution from participating in a worthwhile project . cognitive dissonance theory helps illuminate social incentives for survey completion. For example, when individuals consider themselves helpful, kind or generous, refusing to participate is incompatible with their self-perception. Dissonance theory revolutionized social psychology by emphasizing the role of cognition in social behavior.

Cognitive dissonance: Definition, effects, and examples – Medical News Today

Cognitive dissonance: Definition, effects, and examples.

Posted: Fri, 14 Feb 2020 13:58:08 GMT [source]

Therefore, it is still to be determined if there exists a common CDS across these paradigms. The researchers, Festinger and Carlsmith, proposed that the subjects experienced dissonance between the conflicting cognitions. “I told someone that the task was interesting” and “I actually found it boring.” The subjects paid one dollar were induced to comply, compelled to internalize the “interesting task” mental attitude because they had no other justification. Aside from the misattribution paradigm, the most popular method to study the CDS is the use of self-report scales. Most scholars using self-report scales consider that the CDS is not felt as a general negative affect but is rather experienced as a specific psychological discomfort (Elliot & Devine, 1994). Festinger’s original theory did not seek to explain how dissonance works. It proposes that inconsistencies in a person’s cognition cause mental stress, because psychological inconsistency interferes with the person’s functioning in the real world.

Who created the concept of cognitive dissonance?

Once a consumer has chosen to purchase a specific item, they often fear that another choice may have brought them more pleasure. Post purchase dissonance occurs when a purchase is final, voluntary, and significant to the person. This dissonance is a mental discomfort arising from the possibility of dissatisfaction with the purchase, or the regret of not purchasing a different, potentially more useful or satisfactory good. Usually these feelings of regret are more prevalent after online purchases as opposed to in-store purchases. This happens because an online consumer does not have the opportunity to experience the product in its entirety, and must rely on what information is available through photos and descriptions.

cognitive dissonance theory

In Festinger’s view, cognitive dissonance functions much like a drive. Just as how hunger motivates people to eat in order to reduce their hunger, cognitive dissonance drives individuals to act in ways that will reduce their discomfort. We all feel inner conflicts from time to time, such as when we are expected or forced to behave in a certain way, a new piece of information contradicts our old beliefs, or we have to choose between equally appealing options. However, the degree of dissonance depends on the number and importance of the beliefs and behaviors in conflict (Fisher et al., 2008). For example, if your inner conflict was between choosing vanilla or chocolate ice cream, you might feel minimal discomfort over picking one of the flavors. If you had to choose from six different flavors, you might feel a bit more conflicted.

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