Dissonance-based interventions (DBIs) were developed based on Festinger’s well-known cognitive dissonance theory. Cognitive dissonance theory postulates that an underlying psychological tension is created when an individual’s behavior is inconsistent with his or her thoughts and beliefs. This underlying tension then motivates an individual to make an attitude change that would produce consistency between thoughts and behaviors. Research has shown that when an individual engages in behaviors that are inconsistent with their attitude or belief (e.g., arguing a counter-attitudinal position on a topic), a change in attitude is produced that is consistent in the direction of his or her behavior. This mechanism of thought or attitude change is the same mechanism used to produce changes in negative, irrational thoughts that are involved in the maintenance of depression and related disorders. Second, similar to how Festinger (1957, p. 20) emphasizes the active role of humans in moving around social environments to reduce dissonance, Clark (2016, p. 70–71) also underscores that in order to reduce prediction error, we actively move about to selectively sample the perceivable world.

For example, people might be more willing to help an innocent victim who represents an isolated case rather than one of many such cases, perhaps because help in the latter situation is viewed as less effective at alleviating injustice (Miller, 1977; see also Kogut, 2011). Similarly, people might be more likely to help if aid is not so personally costly as to make them victims of injustice in the process (see Holmes, Miller, & Lerner, cognitive dissonance theory 2002). By Kendra Cherry, MSEd

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.” By using these types of explanations, the smoker is able to reduce the dissonance and continue the unhealthy behavior. A person who cares about their health might be disturbed to learn that sitting for long periods during the day is linked to a shortened lifespan.

Predictive dissonance model

Dissonance can be reduced by modulating the environment or moving about in the material or social world (Festinger, 1957, p. 20). To illustrate the former, Festinger (ibid.) invites the reader to imagine a man pacing in his living room at home, fearfully jumping over a particular spot on the floor for no valid reason. This induces CD, since the man is well aware that there is no reason to fear this particular spot. Festinger (ibid.) notes that the man could, however, reduce this dissonance by breaking a hole in the floor in that particular place. Festinger (ibid.) calls the modulation of physical environments a “relatively rare occurrence,” a notion which I will challenge in Section “An Evolutionary Rationale for Cognitive Dissonance? The examination of the theory will require high powered studies with strictly relevant variables.

  • This might not be rational in the homo economicus sense (i.e., from the lens of rational choice theory), but can be generally “satisficing” (Simon, 1956, 1972).
  • Concluding this section, PP seems to have potential to be informative for the future development of CD theory.
  • This induces CD, since the man is well aware that there is no reason to fear this particular spot.
  • They further presupposed that participants would be driven to reduce the dissonance by justifying their behavior.
  • People tend to be emotionally invested in things that take a lot of effort, so if the action does not have the intended effects, it may cause cognitive dissonance.
  • So, if we engage in a behavior that is not in line with our attitudes, we will change our attitudes to match our behavior in order to reduce this arousal.
  • Later, when the children were told that they could freely play with any toy they wanted, the children in the mild-punishment group were less likely to play with the steam shovel (the forbidden toy), even though they knew that they would no longer receive a punishment.

Cognitive dissonance theory helps illuminate social incentives for survey completion. For example, when individuals consider themselves helpful, kind or generous, refusing to participate is incompatible with their self-perception. At the conclusion of the study, subjects were asked to rate the tedious tasks. The subjects paid one dollar ($1) rated the tasks more positively than did the subjects in the twenty-dollar ($20) or control groups.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

In addition, these studies are strongly socially contextualized and thus may have different impacts depending on place, culture, and temporality. All these variations are likely to alter a number of variables theoretically linked with the CDS and its regulation, such as the importance of the involved cognition, the evoked emotions, the level of self-involvement, or the perceived choice. As we emphasized above, this large variation in the induction is beneficial for the conceptual validity of the theory. However, all these variations can also be impairments when trying to study some specific hypotheses, such as those about the nature and role of the CDS, and its regulations. Each variation between two studies creates room for a potential confounded variable. By nature, we mean the parameters that allow a clear definition of this “state,” such as the experience of a specific emotion or the state’s intensity, valence or motivational capacity.

Trials among at-risk adolescent girls (17 years) outside the school setting have been effective and suggest that dissonance-based approaches could potentially be trialed in schools with older year levels (15 years and over), provided that teachers or facilitators were well trained in the use of this approach. A variety of social psychological theories evolved from CDT to focus on uncertainty-related threats. Like CDT, these certainty theories emphasize the need to supplant aversive, “nonfitting cognitions” with consonant ones, and focus on need for cognitive clarity and consistency. https://ecosoberhouse.com/ When faced with uncertainty about themselves or their environment, people defensively restore certainty, often in unrelated domains with the confidence-inducing help of social consensus and group identification (Hogg, 2007; Kruglanski, Pierro, Mannetti, & De Grada, 2006). For example, personal uncertainty threats increase in-group identification, in-group bias, defense of cultural worldviews, and exaggerated consensus estimates (Hogg, Sherman, Dierselhuis, Maitner, & Moffitt, 2007; McGregor, Nail, Marigold, & Kang, 2005; McGregor et al., 2001; Van den Bos, 2009).

A Biosocial Model of Affective Decision Making

Indeed, the genuine model considers regulation to be driven by the CDS and thus the theory expects individuals to be motivated for regulation. Hence, with a clear operationalization of inconsistency and CDS, the total absence of regulation should be a refutation of the theory. But because assessing all the strategies is nearly impossible, it would be more interesting to examine the factors influencing the choice of regulation. The relation between inconsistency and CDS is more than a presence-absence relation and it forms a main axiom of CDT. As a consequence, to achieve a test of the model and clear predictions, one must measure the degree of inconsistency or other factors responsible for its magnitude which are supposed to impact the CDS (e.g., strength, importance, centrality).

The clashing cognitions may include ideas, beliefs, or the knowledge that one has behaved in a certain way. In romantic relationships, important values represent hotspots for cognitive dissonance and typically center on big decisions, such as the wish to have children, lifestyle choices (e.g., buying a house vs. traveling the world), and issues related to family and friends. In fact, it is a psychological mechanism that helps us perceive our world (and our place in it) consistently. It is a mechanism that alerts us when we are not acting in line with our beliefs, attitudes, or plans. That slight feeling of discomfort we perceive when noticing this mismatch is called cognitive dissonance.

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