Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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Leon Festinger created the cognitive dissonance theory as an attempt to explain why people desire to have consistency between their behaviors and actions. Cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state people feel when they find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold (Festinger, 1957; as cited in Griffin, 2009). Thus, people are motivated to change either their behavior or their belief when feelings of dissonance arise. Dissonance is reduced using three mental strategies. Selective exposure is the strategy used before a decision is made. The premise of this strategy is to avoid information that is likely to increase dissonance. The second…show more content…
The difference between condition one and three is that condition three allowed the participants to self-affirm after finding out their verdict was in disagreement with the other group members. Festinger argues that the lack of choice adds consonant cognitions which reduce the overall amount of dissonance that otherwise would be experienced (Festinger, 1957, 1958; as cited in Matz & Woods, 2005). Additionally, the opportunity to self-affirm strengthens self-worth and thereby reduces the dissonance created when people’s actions threaten their personal integrity (Simon, Greenberg, & Brehm, 1995; as cited in Matz & Woods, 2005). Thus, Matz and Woods hypothesize that dissonance will be reduced by the lack of choice and the opportunity to self-affirm. The results show low levels of discomfort in the lack of choice and self-affirmation conditions, providing an explanation of the kinds of strategies people use to reduce dissonance. Study three introduces an interpersonal strategy introduced by Festinger: changing one’s own attitude to align with others’ opinions (Festinger, 1957; as cited in Matz & Woods, 2005). Building off of Festinger’s idea of changing one’s attitude three conditions are used in this study. The three strategies used are: (a) changing one’s own attitudes to agree with others in the group, (b) influencing others to change their opinion, and (c) joining a different, attitudinally congenial group. The end results show
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