The Validity of Cognitive Dissonance Theory Essay examples

The Validity of Cognitive Dissonance Theory Essay examples

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Description of Theory
The term dissonance refers to when one cognitive element is inconsistent with another cognitive element according to the lecture notes of Professor Soreno. Cognitive elements can be categorized in four groups called beliefs, attitudes, values, and perceptions of behavior. Beliefs can be defined as a perception that something exists or not. This perception can range from a central or peripheral type of belief. The more central a belief is, the harder it is to change that belief. An attitude describes the positive or negative feelings we have toward people, things, or ideas. Values are beliefs that are so important to a person, that they practically guide a person’s life. There are two types of values, instrumental and terminal. Perceptions of behavior simply refer to the interpretation of actions by another. For example, when someone waves at a person, in America, it is often perceived as a friendly gesture. When two of these cognitive elements are incongruent, it leads to dissonance, which can very in intensity. People often experience dissonance on a daily basis, but because it is so minute, it is not bothersome. The Cognitive Dissonance theory deals with these small occurrences, but for the sake of understanding, extreme examples help to explain the theory in better detail.
According to Festinger, all of the cognitive elements held the same value in producing cognitive dissonance, but some scholars have challenged his theory. In the book, The Handbook of Motivation Science, the authors claim that attitude cognitive element holds a heavier value over the other elements by saying it can change the behavior of a person. They quote, “In experimental tests of the theory, knowledge about recent behavior is usua...

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...s communication studies continue, there will be more tests and conclusions on the Cognitive Dissonance theory that will reveal more about human communication. After all, learning how we communicate with each other is how we are able to grow as a society.


Harmon-Jones, E. (2008). Cognitive Dissonance Theory. In J. Shah, W. Gardener, & V. Gardener, Handbook of Motivational Science (pp. 71-83). New York City: The Guilford Press.

Helwig-Larson, M., & Collins, B. (1997, April 1). A Social Psychological Perspective on the Role of Knowledge about AIDS in AIDS Prevention. Current Directions in Psychological Science , Vol. 6 (No. 2).

Lepper, M. R., & Greene, D. (1975). Turning Play into Work: Effects of Adult Surveillance and Extrinsic Rewards on Children's Intrinsic Motivation. Journal ol Personality and Social Psychology , Vol. 31, 479-486.

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