Cognitive Dissonance Theory TheoryHub Academic theories reviews for research and T&L
For example, the smoker might either quit smoking or rationalize their smoking by saying other habits are just as dangerous. Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort felt when two pieces of information contradict each other or when your behavior goes against the truth of a situation. Examples of cognitive dissonance include a smoker who knows cigarettes are dangerous, a company that doesn’t follow its code of ethics, or a person who avoids speaking about a past trauma while still dealing with it in the present. Defense mechanisms can restore psychological homeostasis by ignoring or deflecting sudden increases in impulse, affect, and emotion. Defense mechanisms can provide a mental time out to adjust to sudden changes in reality or self-image. Defenses can mitigate sudden unresolvable conflict with important people, living or dead.
- Previous studies using EEG have also demonstrated that the DPLFC, especially on the left side, plays a key role in dissonance reduction processes (Harmon-Jones, Gerdjikov, & Harmon-Jones, 2008; Harmon-Jones, Harmon-Jones, Fearn, Sigelman, & Johnson, 2008).
- We expected a sinusoidal pattern of correlations between the discerned styles in the circumplex and the different assessed outcomes.
- Each DBI may include several combinations of these activities performed over one or more sessions.
- The item stem asks why respondents do a particular school-related activity (in this case, “These questions are about putting effort into [subject]. I am motivated to put effort into this class because…”).
- Holding beliefs that are logically or ‘psychologically’ inconsistent, i.e., dissonant, with one another is uncomfortable.
One exception to this is the work cited earlier by Feldon et al. (2018, 2019) using expectancy-value theory, which concluded that cognitive load is experienced as a motivational cost that affects subsequent self-efficacy beliefs and the investment of further effort. The present findings complement this work, showing that additional motivational processes that affect internalization of motivational beliefs and values may be at play. While noting the advantages of SDT as a theory of motivation, we make no claims in relation to whether one motivation theory or another should be preferred. It may be that diverse empirical work using a range of approaches converges on a particularly satisfying theoretical understanding. Concerning arousal, contrary to our hypothesis, neither Study 1 nor Study 2 have shown a significant effect of the CDS on participants’ reports of arousal. Given the strength of supporting evidence linking cognitive dissonance to arousal in the literature, this absence is peculiar.
Cognitive Dissonance: Festinger’s Theory
What I am doing is really important.” If this is his belief, he will realize that he is becoming stronger through his challenges. He then will feel better and not experience cognitive dissonance, which is an uncomfortable state. Perhaps due to these psychometric issues, the Dissonance Thermometer is also not used in a standardized way. This lack of standardization impairs the comparability of the results and limits their interpretation. For instance, could the affect assessed with Elliot and Devine’s three items (1994; uneasy, uncomfortable and bothered) and Matz and Wood’s five items (2005; uneasy, uncomfortable, bothered, tense and concerned) be considered the same?
- Experimental studies (e.g., Eitel et al., 2020; Likourezos & Kalyuga, 2017; Rey & Buchwald, 2011) have used strategies such as problem-solving to instigate this process, with disappointing results.
- The publicity and the consequences of the act were high, as participants were instructed to sign the consent form with their name and were told that their arguments would be presented to the committee.
- The model was estimated first as a measurement model (confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)) with all latent correlations freely estimated, before imposing regression (structural) constraints.
- If John keeps thinking about how miserable he is, it is going to be a very long four years.
The consumers in the control condition merely came to the taste test session and evaluated the coffee. The arrows indicate the expected belief strength of the information group before tasting the coffee. As can be seen, when compared to the control group, the information group’s experience of the bitterness of the tasted coffee moved in the direction of their expectations of it, supporting an ‘assimilation’ of the expectation into the product experience. Third, people are likely to prefer to attain their desired ends in ways that satisfy multiple motives. According to Hafer and Gosse (2010), therefore, a number of situational variables likely influence the degree to which people pursue particular modes of BJW-defense because these variables determine the extent to which other motives (aside from preserving BJW) are also met. For example, a person who is the perpetrator versus a third-party observer of an injustice might want to maintain BJW while avoiding feelings of guilt or social censure (see Chaikin & Darley, 1973).
Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena
We accomplish this by justifying why our choice was the best option so we can believe that we made the right decision. The inconsistency between what people believe and how they behave motivates them to engage in actions that will help minimize feelings of discomfort. People attempt to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information.
The findings also corroborate the body of experimental research on the negative effects of extraneous cognitive load on motivation (Feldon et al., 2018; Nebel et al., 2017; Skulmowski et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2022). Our model overall supported the benefits of load reduction instruction and the experience of minimized cognitive load for motivation, engagement, and learning. Application of this theory has yielded many surprising and nonintuitive predictions. For example, conventional wisdom suggests that behavior follows from attitudes; dissonance theory, however, identifies conditions under which just the opposite occurs.
Changing the Environment
Therefore, the theory was one of the breakthroughs for research in the psychology field as it revolutionised thinking about human psychological processes. More specifically, the theory explains how rewards affect attitudes and behaviours and how behaviours and motivations affect cognitions and perceptions (Harmon-Jones & Harmon-Jones, 2007). Although the concepts of harmony and conflict were not new and had been proposed earlier by Heider (Heider, 1946), Cognitive Dissonance theory made a major contribution to the concept of consistency (Cooper, 2007). The theory is different compared to other consistency theories as it defines dissonance and consonance in relation to a specific cognition, which usually is related to a behaviour (Harmon-Jones & Harmon-Jones, 2007). Cognitive Dissonance theory made it possible to identify the determinants of attitudes and beliefs, the internalisation of values, the consequences of decisions, the effects of disagreement among individuals and other important psychological processes (Mills & Harmon-Jones, 1999). Hence, the theory received good attention from scholars in its early days, due to its few fundamental and uncomplicated principles, which could make novel and non-obvious predictions.
Drawing a person’s attention to the dissonance between their behavior and their values may increase their awareness of the inconsistency and empower them to act. Sometimes people can reduce dissonance by changing things in their environment—in particular, in their social environment. For example, someone who cognitive dissonance treatment smokes might surround themselves with other people who smoke instead of with people who have disapproving attitudes about cigarettes. In others words, people sometimes cope with feelings of dissonance by surrounding themselves in “echo chambers” where their opinions are supported and validated by others.
An experiment on small rewards for discrepant compliance and attitude change
For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition), they are in a state of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. After listing in on the discussion, subjects were asked to evaluate how interesting they found it. The subjects whose strong initiation required reading aloud obscene words evaluated the discussion as more-interesting than the subjects of the mild initiation group.
The Dissonance Thermometer has been initially used to support the claim that CDS is experienced as a specific psychological discomfort instead of a general negative affect (Elliot & Devine, 1994). However, all the variations we have seen could actually be interpreted as evidence for a general and unspecified negative affect. However, cognitive dissonance can also be a tool for personal and social change.
The model was estimated first as a measurement model (confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)) with all latent correlations freely estimated, before imposing regression (structural) constraints. We did not make any hypotheses (or findings) in relation to mediation as the model is based on cross-sectional data, but for completeness, we also report indirect effects. Using the circumplex structure of the teacher’s motivating style, https://ecosoberhouse.com/ we correlated the different subareas within the circumplex model with load reduction instruction, intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load, motivation, engagement, and achievement. We expected a sinusoidal pattern of correlations between the discerned styles in the circumplex and the different assessed outcomes. The theory of cognitive dissonance and its major experimental paradigms are described in this article.
- This is referred to as ‘effort justification’ because the attitude change results from having to justify to the self the willingness to go through so much to join the group.
- In Hafer and Gosse (2010), we discuss a number of potential situational determinants of how people defend BJW in the face of threat.
- Negative consequences of cognitive dissonance reduction include procrastination or acting seemingly contrary to our values and beliefs.
- Another example to note is how people mostly consume media that aligns with their political views.
- Cognitive dissonance was measured indirectly by asking participants about changes in their opinion about how enjoyable the task was following the experiment.
- Read on to learn more about cognitive dissonance, including examples, signs a person might be experiencing it, causes, and how to resolve it.
All items loaded accordingly to their index, except for two items of the dominance index that did not load strongly on any of the components (important/awed and in control/cared for). As this analysis was not pre-registered, we decided to keep the latter items in the analyses. The effects may relate to the discomfort of the dissonance itself or the defense mechanisms a person adopts to deal with it.