Mrigaya Dham

People are not always able to behave in a way that matches their beliefs. A person may do this by discrediting the person, group, or situation that highlighted the dissonance. American psychologist Leon Festinger first developed the concept in the 1950s.

4 Things You Should Know About Cognitive Dissonance – DISCOVER Magazine

4 Things You Should Know About Cognitive Dissonance.

Posted: Wed, 09 Nov 2022 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Notably, this proselytizing solution reflects not only effort justification but also the motivation to create a shared reality with others that their beliefs are true. This is yet another way to establish what is real that we discuss next. One solution to this truth problem would be to try to make sense of what happened by establishing some new reality. This solution would involve creating new truths that are consistent with their previous beliefs and actions. New judgments about the present and predictions about the future were made that were consistent with the original belief, with the disconfirming event being treated like a bump in the road. After disconfirmation, for example, there was a sharp increase in the frequency with which group members decided that other people who telephoned them or visited their group were actually spacemen. They tried to get orders and messages from the “spacemen” for a future reality that would be consistent with their original beliefs.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Researchers believe the amount paid influenced how people came to see the peg-turning task. People who were paid a large sum could justify their lie to the other student about how fun the task was; after all, it was a pretty minor lie, and they got $20. But the amount they were given mattered in terms of how they evaluated the experiment when asked by a new researcher. People who were paid $20 to lie to the other student reported, accurately, that they found the study pretty boring. But people who were given only a dollar actually said they sort of enjoyed participating.

Who developed the cognitive dissonance theory?

The cognitive dissonance theory was developed by Stanford University professor Leon Festinger prompted by his observational studies.

In this regard, the Dissonance Thermometer (Devine et al., 1999; Elliot & Devine, 1994) is the most common means to assess CDS. In its original form, it is a 18 item self-report affective scale that computes a specific CDS index on the basis of how much people report feeling uncomfortable, uneasy and bothered. However, despite its popularity, this scale seems to present several flaws. The scale indexes have presented an insufficient homogeneity several times (Harmon-Jones, 2000a; Priolo et al., 2016), and their inter-correlations fluctuate (Elliot & Devine, 1994; Galinsky et al., 2000; Matz & Wood 2005). Sometimes the cognitive dissonance induction has no significant effect on the identified discomfort index but affects the negative-self index (Gosling et al., 2006). Moreover, the discomfort index may also lack sensitivity, as its scores are usually very close to the lowest possible value, indicating a likely floor effect.

Cognitive Dissonance in Theory and Everyday Life

It causes a feeling of discomfort that motivates people to try to feel better. He suggested that people have an inner need to ensure that their beliefs and behaviors are consistent. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs lead to disharmony, which people strive to avoid. Sometimes, the ways that people resolve cognitive dissonance contribute to unhealthy behaviors or poor decisions.

Among the examples he used to illustrate the theory were doomsday cult members and their explanations for why the world had not ended as they had anticipated. Many experiments have since been conducted to illustrate cognitive dissonance in more ordinary contexts. Consider someone who buys an expensive car but discovers that it is not comfortable on long drives. Dissonance exists between their beliefs that they have bought a good car and that a good car should be comfortable. Dissonance could be eliminated by deciding that it does not matter since the car is mainly used for short trips or focusing on the cars strengths such as safety, appearance, handling . The dissonance could also be eliminated by getting rid of the car, but this behavior is a lot harder to achieve than changing beliefs. Cognitive dissonance can decrease self-worth or self-esteem by altering a person’s beliefs about themselves.

You’ll Find Examples of Cognitive Dissonance in Communication and Advertising

The theory of cognitive dissonance is nothing foreign to the public relations world. Cognitive dissonance is the reason people react to new cognitions in a certain way, and change their behaviors or attitudes. People enjoy living in stability and when they are exposed to contradicting cognitions of their own preexisting beliefs or actions, they become distressed. This level of discomfort is known as cognitive dissonance, and individuals react to this in several different ways in an attempt to return to consistency. In public relations, the responsibility of the professional is to get a target audience to change their established attitudes or behaviors. One of the main ways a public relations expert can get an audience to do something is through cognitive dissonance.

There are a number of different situations that can create conflicts that lead to cognitive dissonance. The use of the Internet offers the additional benefit of enabling both a universal and targeted program as initial activities can include screening for risk factors and tailoring the subsequent content. For example, ‘Student Bodies’ is an 8-week psycho-educational eating disorder prevention program that was developed in the United States and trialed among female adolescents (mean age 15.1 years) and their parents. It is recommended that future research investigate the use of cognitive dissonance and Internet-based approaches in schools.


These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into Positive CBT and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching. Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic cognitive dissonance theory research institutions, and medical journals and associations. We link primary sources — including studies, scientific references, and statistics — within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles.

This is especially the case when the assessment is only based on measures that cannot assess a specific state, such as facial activity or the “calm-tense” item used by Zanna and Cooper . This is problematic because many cognitive dissonance paradigms are likely to induce negative emotions other than the CDS. Consequently, when reviewing the main cognitive dissonance paradigms, Kenworthy et al. conclude that guilt could be the most important mediator of common cognitive dissonance effects.

Cognitive Dissonance Resources

He talks about this theory in detail in his book “A theory of cognitive dissonance”. He is well known for his theories of “Cognitive Dissonance and Social Comparison”.

  • A more severe example is when a person in an abusive relationship rationalizes, justifies, or makes excuses to make the behavior of an abusive partner seem okay, Leikam says.
  • The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people are averse to inconsistencies within their own minds.
  •  The dissonance might be experienced as guilt, anger, frustration, or even embarrassment.
  • While this can feel uncomfortable at first, it’s helpful to reflect on the reasons behind our behavior.
  • As the affected person works towards a behavioral commitment, the motivational process then is activated in the left frontal cortex of the brain.

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