Summary Of The Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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In 1957 Leon Festinger developed a theory that refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors which produces a feeling of discomfort which in turn makes the person alternate one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to rid the discomfort. This suggests that people are driven to avoid discomfort and inconsistency and make a change in order to balance their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. This theory that Festinger came up with is known as the cognitive dissonance theory and has been around for over half a century. An example of this theory is if a person knows they have to lose weight in order to be healthy which would be their cognition but they do not like to exercise which is their behavior then they will have to change their behavior by starting to exercise in order to be consistent with their belief that they want to lose weight. This would make the beliefs and behaviors consistant with one another and avoid dissonance. The main point of cognitive dissonance is that people want consistency in their attitudes and beliefs and if their beliefs are inconsistent with their behaviors they will have a motivation to reduce the dissonance change which can give them the cause to change behaviors. This change can sometimes be illogical and absurd but it helps them to reduce the conflicting attributes.…show more content…
The main focus of this study was to create cognitive dissonance through forced compliance. In this experiment they got the students at Stanford to move pegs on and off a board for a half hour using only one hand and then turn 48 square pegs clockwise in quarter turns for the next half hour. Then they were interviewed on how the experiment went for each individual and then either they would be done with the experiment which was the controlled group or they would be asked if they would like to take the place of an experimenter and tell the next group of participants how much fun and amusing the experiment was that they had just performed. Half of the people who were asked to fill in for the experimenter were paid $1 while the other half was paid $20 and then they were interviewed again. The results were that the controlled group or the ones that were sent away averaged a -0.45 on a -5 to +5 scale on how enjoyable the tasks were, +5 being very enjoyable and -5 being not enjoyable at all. While on the other hand the ones who were paid $1 rated the activities positively with a 1.35 and the ones who were paid $20 gave a rating of -0.5 which is lower than the controlled group. According to Festinger and Carlsmith these results show cognitive dissonance. They said this because the participants experienced dissonance due to their conflicting

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