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COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY 1957

( LEON FESTINGER )
Cognitive - can be considered as belief
Dissonance - an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement
Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or
behaviors.
-

An uncomfortable mental state resulting from conflicting cognitions,


usually resolved by changing some of the cognitions.

Leon Festinger (1957) proposed cognitive dissonance theory, which states that a
powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and
sometimes maladaptive behavior. Maladaptive behavior means study of
someone's behavior can give an indication of that person's emotions, and how
those emotions are handled.

Explanation of Theory:
This theory of Cognitive Dissonance says that human beings often have
conflicting beliefs with actions they take, or other beliefs they have. This dissonance a
tension and tension reduction is automatically sought by changing our evaluations by
some degree. Cognitive Dissonance is when you have two good choices and you make
your decision then you find yourself unsure or in doubt about the choice you made. You
might have to downplay the other choice in order to reassure yourself.
( Examples of the Cognitive dissonance theory )
Here are some examples of the Cognitive dissonance theory:

Example 1: Knowing that smoking is harmful (First cognition) while liking to


smoke (second cognition). The Cognitive dissonance theory's conditions were
met because those cognitions are dissonant
Example 2: Believing that lying is bad (First cognition) and being forced to lie
(second cognition)
Example 3: Liking a friend (first cognition) while knowing that he hates your
brother (second cognition.

Relationship between Cognitions


Individuals can adjust their attitudes or actions in various ways. Adjustments result in
one of three relationships between two cognitions or between cognition and a behavior.
Consonant relationship Two cognitions/actions that are consistent with one
another (Ex: Not wanting to get intoxicated while out, then ordering water instead
of alcohol)
Irrelevant relationship Two cognitions/actions that are unrelated to one
another (Ex: Not wanting to get intoxicated while out, then tying your shoes)
Dissonant relationship Two cognitions/actions that are inconsistent with one
another (Ex: Not wanting to get intoxicated while out, then consuming six tequila
shots)

Magnitude of Dissonance
The amount of dissonance produced by two conflicting cognitions or actions
(as well as the subsequent psychological distress) depends on two factors:
1. The importance of cognitions: The more elements that are personally
valued, the greater the magnitude of the dissonant relationship will
be.
2. Ratio of cognitions: The proportion of dissonant to consonant
elements
The pressure to reduce cognitive dissonance is a function of the magnitude
of said dissonance.

How Attitude Change Takes Place


According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek
consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an
inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to
eliminate the dissonance.
1. Change one or more of the attitudes - behavior, beliefs etc. so as to make

the relationship between the two elements a consonant one. When one of the
dissonant elements is a behavior, the individual can change or eliminate the
behavior. However, this mode of dissonance reduction frequently presents
problems for people, as it is often difficult for people to change well-learned
behavioral responses (e.g. giving up smoking).
2. Acquire new information - that outweighs the dissonant beliefs. For example,
thinking smoking causes lung cancer will cause dissonance if a person
smokes. However, new information such as research has not proved
definitely that smoking causes lung cancer may reduce the dissonance.
3. reduce the importance of the cognitions - (i.e. beliefs, attitudes). A person

could convince themself that it is better to "live for today" than to "save for
tomorrow." In other words, he could tell himself that a short life filled with
smoking and sensual pleasures is better than a long life devoid of such joys.
In this way, he would be decreasing the importance of the dissonant cognition
(smoking is bad of ones health).

Cognitive Dissonance Importance


Cognitive dissonance plays a role in many value judgments, decisions, and
evaluations. Becoming aware of how conflicting beliefs impact the decisionmaking process is a great way to improve your ability to make faster and more
accurate choices.

Cognitive
Dissonance
Theory
of Leon Festinger
Written Report of : Jobelle Ann Joven Ladea
AB-English II-B
Mrs. Baselisa Palmenco