Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance Theory Analysis

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This essay will first give a short overview about the theory of cognitive dissonance by Festinger. Subsequent, it will explain the phenomena of free will, induced compliance and effort justification, which all create a state of dissonance according to this theory. In the end, it will give you an overview over other theories suggested on the theme. Leon Festinger first proposed the theory “cognitive dissonance” in 1957, which has later been used to explain several phenomena, for example free will, induced compliance and effort justification (Harmon-Jones, 2012). According to Festinger, individuals strive to obtain a consistency between their cognitions (Festinger, 1957). When they experience that two or more elements of knowledge are inconsistent…show more content…
According to Festinger (1957) we can reduce dissonance by either (1) changing the attitude, behaviour or belief that we have (2) get new information or (3) reduce the importance of that cognition. Let us look at the smoking example again. The best method to reduce the dissonance would be to stop smoking, but as we know, that is simpler said than done. Another way to reduce dissonance is for a person to convince her/himself that the research on smoking is inconclusive. The last method would be to reduce the importance. For example, the person could tell him/herself that it might lead to a shorter life, but at least a more enjoyable…show more content…
The relation between the cognition (this activity is not pleasant) and behaviour (I am going to do this) is inconsistent, which lead to a state of dissonance. If the unpleasant effort is larger, the dissonance is expected to be greater. One way to reduce the dissonance is to exaggerate how much you want the outcome to happen. Aronson & Mills (1959) tested this hypothesis by getting women to go through either a hard or an easy “initiation” to become a group member. In the first group, the women had to go through a rather embarrassing activity to be able to become a member of the group. The group itself was quite boring. It turned out that the women who had to go through a “hard” initiation” favoured the group more than those who had an “easy” initiation”.
Other theories
A number of researchers has proposed different theories about dissonance that differ more or less from the original. This paper will focus mainly on three: self-consistency theory, self-affirmation and.
The self-consistency theory claims that cognitions we have about ourselves works as expectancies for the behaviour (Aronson, 1968; Aronson & Carlsmith, 1962). Dissonance emerge when a person behave in ways that does not fit with his/her self-concept
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