Cognitive Dissonance Leon Festinger

Write an essay of at least one to two pages that explains the situation that produced cognitive dissonance. Discuss which of the three stages you experienced that caused you to feel cognitive dissonance. Describe which of the three resolutions you used to get past the cognitive dissonance. If you are uncomfortable with sharing one of your own experiences, that is ok; simply make up a scenario that illustrates it and how it was resolved.

What is 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).

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). The anterior cingulate cortex activity increases when errors occur and are being monitored as well as having behavioral conflicts with the self-concept as a form of higher-level thinking. A study was done to test the prediction that the left frontal cortex would have increased activity. University students had to write a paper depending on if they were assigned to a high-choice or low-choice condition. The low-choice condition required students to write about supporting a 10% increase in tuition at their university.

How common is cognitive dissonance?

What wasn’t studied were the cognitive dissonance effects in cases where the person had unfavorable attitudes toward both candidates. The 2016 U.S. election held historically high unfavorable ratings for both candidates.

  •  The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing them.
  • 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.
  • The second condition necessary for cognitive dissonance to work is that people must have a freedom of choice.
  • Dissonance can be eliminated by reducing the importance of the conflicting beliefs, acquiring new beliefs that change the balance, or removing the conflicting attitude or behavior.

By bringing attention to the inconsistencies in our minds, cognitive dissonance may present an opportunity for growth. People who feel it could realize, for example, that they need to update their beliefs to reflect the truth, or change their behavior to better match the person they want to be. While cognitive dissonance is often described as something widely and regularly experienced, efforts to capture it in studies don’t always work, so cognitive dissonance theory it could be less common than has been assumed. People do not necessarily experience discomfort in response to every apparent contradiction in their thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes internal conflicts arise when people’s ideas and beliefs are challenged by conflicting evidence. Although a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing, many people become unreasonably defensive of their beliefs and resist the truth despite irrefutable evidence.

On the Characteristics of the Cognitive Dissonance State: Exploration Within the Pleasure Arousal Dominance Model

Induced Compliance – behaviors that offer little or no reward for compliance cause people to seek internal justification for their participation, which makes them more likely to permanently adopt said behaviors. Belief Disconfirmation – dissonance that fails to change a person’s belief causes that person to spread her belief to others to gain support for her position. Hypocrisy involves a contradiction between a person’s supposed principles, beliefs, or character and who they really are or how they behave. Cognitive dissonance is the unpleasant mental state that may result if someone really does have certain beliefs but thinks or acts in a way that contradicts them. Psychologist Leon Festinger published the book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance in 1957.

  • High-choice condition participants showed a higher level of the left frontal cortex than the low-choice participants.
  • The predictive dissonance account is highly compatible with the action-motivation model since, in practice, prediction error can arise from unsuccessful behavior.
  • Cognitive dissonance’s definition is a feeling of unease when there is tension between one’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and one’s actions.
  • Results show that the initial experience of dissonance can be apparent in the anterior cingulate cortex, then the left frontal cortex is activated, which also activates the approach motivational system to reduce anger.
  • 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.

A person who feels defensive or unhappy might consider the role cognitive dissonance might play in these feelings. If they are part of a wider problem that is causing distress, people may benefit from speaking with a therapist. Leon Festinger first proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance, centered on how people try to reach internal consistency. This is particularly true if the disparity between their beliefs and behaviors involves something that is central to their sense of self. Has generally been used with at-risk women, and outside of the school setting. This approach intersects nicely with models of interactive and student-centered learning as well as fitting with the principles of developing media literacy, making it a good fit for the school setting.

Aversiveness of Cognitive Dissonance

Although cognitive dissonance was first introduced through psychology, it has a big impact in public relations. One of the most important parts of working in public relations is being able to change an audience’s beliefs and behaviors, which goes hand-in-hand with cognitive dissonance. Public relations experts face challenges with persuading an audience to do or feel things, so it is essential for them to have a grasp on cognitive dissonance in order to be successful in this industry. Mrs. Keech’s followers actively enlisted new believers to obtain social support to reduce the dissonance created by the disconfirmation. In this theory, he states that cognitive dissonance is a state of non-equilibrium where the behaviors and attitudes are inconsistent with one another.

  • For instance, if you’re struggling to accept a medical development, look for the opinions of medical professionals and research scientists.
  • This second time around, participants who chose between two desirable products gave a better rating to their choice while rating the other product lower.
  • If you had to choose from six different flavors, you might feel a bit more conflicted.
  • However, despite its popularity, this scale seems to present several flaws.
  • It provides an introduction to the theory and covers the topics of cognitive dissonance following decisions, the effects of forced compliance, the impacts of voluntary and involuntary exposure to information, and the role of social support.

Yet, this model appears to be a relevant framework to examine the characteristics of the CDS. This method of attitude change 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.

The Importance of Empirical Research in Psychology

Change your actions – Instead of changing beliefs, you could change your actions to meet your beliefs. For example, you could promise yourself that you’ll never lie again, or you could go back and tell the person in the hallway that you lied and that the task really wasn’t very interesting.

cognitive dissonance theory

Afterwards, the students are trained to objectively perceive new facts and information to resolve the psychological stress of the conflict between reality and the student’s value system. Moreover, educational software that applies the derived principles facilitates the students’ ability to successfully handle the questions posed in a complex subject. Meta-analysis of studies indicates that psychological interventions that provoke cognitive dissonance in order to achieve a directed conceptual change do increase students’ learning in reading skills and about science. 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).