COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY

Posted by Winnie Melda on November 12th, 2018

            Cognitive dissonance refers to the situations that involve conflicting attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It generates a feeling of discomfort and an alteration in one of the attitudes and behaviors to reduce discomfort and restore balance. The theory suggests that individuals have an inner drive to hold attitudes and beliefs in harmony as well as avoiding disharmony. Attitudes may change due to the factors within a person. The theory asserts that individuals seek consistency in the beliefs and attitudes in the situations where two cognitions are inconsistent (McLeod, 2014).

            There is a tendency to seek consistency among cognitions and where inconsistency between attitudes and behaviors exist, certain things have to change to eliminate the dissonance. There are two major aspects that affect the strength of dissonance; the number of dissonant beliefs, and the significance related to each belief. The methods to do away with dissonance include limiting the importance of the dissonant beliefs and changing the dissonant beliefs so that they are not inconsistent (Cooper, 2011).

            Dissonance arises in the situations where individuals have to choose between two incompatible beliefs and actions. Cognitive dissonance theory applies to all the situations that involve the formation of attitude and change especially in decision-making and problem-solving (Cooper, 2011). An example of cognitive dissonance theory is a person who acquires an expensive car but realizes that it is not comfortable on long drives. Dissonance exists between the belief that the car is good and that should be comfortable. Dissonance can be eliminated by concluding that the factors do not matter since the car will often be used for the short distance trips. Also, the owner can focus on other beneficial factors like safety and its durability.

References

Cooper, J. (2011). Cognitive dissonance theory: Handbook of theories of social psychology, 1,       377-398.

McLeod, S. A. (2014). Cognitive Dissonance

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Winnie Melda

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Winnie Melda
Joined: December 7th, 2017
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