Cognitive Dissonance and Advertising

Cognitive Dissonance and Advertising

Advertising deals with people’s feelings and emotions. It includes understanding of the psychology of the buyer, his motives, attitudes, as well as the influences on him such as his family and reference groups, social class and culture. In order to increase the advertisements persuasiveness, advertisers use many types of extensions of behavioural sciences to marketing and buying behaviour. One such extension is the theory of cognitive dissonance. The purpose of advertising can be to create a cognitive dissonance to generate a favourable response from the buyer toward a product or a concept.

First of all, I will talk about the purpose of advertising and its mechanism and I will look at how it can be related to the theory of cognitive dissonance. In addition to that, I will examine the effects of fear appeals on consumers, which are a direct application of the theory of cognitive dissonance. I will try to provide concrete examples of fear appeals and I will take into consideration the ethical aspect of fear appeals. In last part, I will give some examples, where advertisements are used to reduce the cognitive dissonance.

The purpose of advertising is simply to sell a product or a service. In social contexts ads have many other applications such as reducing accidents, increasing voting and reducing smoking which must be assessed instead of profit. However people do not automatically buy a product after they are exposed to an ad. First, they have thoughts or feelings about a product, and then they buy it. Advertising and other types of marketing communications directly affect consumer’s mental processes. Advertising can be thought of as stimulus that produces a response or an effect. Moreover, the main objective of advertisements is to convince consumers that the alternative offered by the product provides the best chance to attain the goal.

The attitude toward the advertisement is defined “as a predisposition to respond in favourable or unfavourable manner to a particular advertising stimulus during a particular exposure occasion ”. The range of feelings generated by advertisements is broad and spreads from contentment to repulsion. Those feelings can have a direct impact on brand attitudes.

It is really important for advertisers to generate a feeling that will modify the buyer’s attitude tow...

... middle of paper ...

...vertisers to be familiar with those concepts and to understand their implications.

Works Cited:

SOLOMON M, Consumer behaviour: a European perspective, 1999, Prentice Hall

EAST R., Consumer Behaviour: Advances and applications in marketing, 1997, Prentice Hall.

FOXALL G.R. and GOLDSMITH R.E., 1995, Consumer Psychology for Marketing, Routledge.

FILL C., 1995, Marketing Communications, Prentice Hall.

SCHIFFMAN L., 1994, Consumer Behaviour, Prentice Hall.

SHIMP T.A., 1993 , Promotion management and marketing communications, 3rd edition, The Dryden Press.

SCHUDSON M., 1993, Advertising, the uneasy persuasion. It’s dubious impact on American society, Routledge.

ASSAEL H., 1987, Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Action, 3rd edition, PWS-Kent Publishing Company.

WILLIAMSON J., 1978, Decoding advertisements : ideology and meaning in advertising, Boyars.

FESTINGER L., 1957, A theory of cognitive dissonance, Evanston.

Quick References :

Journal of advertisements.

Journal of marketing research.

Internet :
Get Access