Understanding the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance Essays

Understanding the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance Essays

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The human psyche frequently experiences the phenomena of internal contradiction, followed by an internal struggle for some semblance of balance or consistency (Hall, 1998). Cognitive dissonance acts as motivation for people to behave in a manner that effectively reduces said dissonance and restores balance. Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance explores this occurrence and the subsequent actions that people take in order to create a balance between their ideals.
Cognitive dissonance looks at the way people combat contradictions within their minds by actively seeking consistency. For his theory, Festinger refers to cognition as thought/mental processes and dissonance as inconsistency. His famous example is that of an addicted smoker who knows that smoking is detrimental to his or her health and is thus in conflict with his or her self. The main hypothesis of Festinger’s theory is comprised of two parts; Festinger wrote about the first part of his theory that "The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance," and described the second "When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance" (Festinger, 1957). Festinger elaborates on the importance an individual places on reducing cognitive dissonance by discussing two essential factors: the value of the cognitions and the ratio of cognitions (Festinger, 1957). The former consists of the personal importance or value that the individual places on the opposing cognitions, resulting in either a minor or major dissonance. The latter consists of the proportion of the degre...


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...nitive dissonance. Retrieved from http://web.mst.edu/~psyworld/cognitive_dissonance.htm

Festinger, Leon. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Festinger, Leon. Carlsmith, James M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 58, 203-210.

Waters, Richard D. (2009). Examining the role of cognitive dissonance in crisis fundraising. Public Relations Review. 35 (2, June), 139-143.

Anderson, Eric (2010). 'At least with cheating there is an attempt at monogamy': Cheating and monogamism among undergraduate heterosexual men. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 27 (7, November), 851-872.

Staider, Daniel R. (2012). The role of dissonance, social comparison, and marital status in thinking about divorce. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 29 (3, May), 302-323.

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