What is cognitive dissonance


Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon in which a person holds two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas, or values and experiences psychological stress or discomfort. This discomfort arises from the person's inability to reconcile their conflicting beliefs and may lead to a change in their behavior or attitude. This theory was first proposed by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957.

What are examples of cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance can manifest in many different forms and can be observed in a variety of situations. Here are a few examples:

  1. A person who smokes cigarettes but believes smoking is bad for their health may experience cognitive dissonance.

  2. A person who values honesty but also tells lies to protect their image may experience cognitive dissonance.

  3. A person who is trying to lose weight but also continues to eat high-calorie foods may experience cognitive dissonance.

  4. A person who is against violence but also enjoys playing violent video games may experience cognitive dissonance.

  5. A person who is a vegetarian but works in a butcher shop may experience cognitive dissonance.

  6. A person who values the environment but drives a gas-guzzling SUV may experience cognitive dissonance.

  7. A person who is a feminist but also enjoys watching objectifying TV shows may experience cognitive dissonance.

Here is a list of some key references for the study of cognitive dissonance:

  1. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford University Press.

  2. Aronson, E., & Mills, J. (1959). The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59(2), 177-181.

  3. Brehm, J. W. (1956). Post-decision changes in the desirability of alternatives. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 52(3), 384-389.

  4. Cooper, J., & Fazio, R. H. (1984). A new look at dissonance theory. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 17, 229-266.

  5. Harmon-Jones, E., & Mills, J. (1999). Cognitive dissonance: Progress on a pivotal theory in social psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

  6. Cialdini, R. B., & Trost, M. R. (1998). Social influence: Social norms, conformity, and compliance. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 151-192). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

  7. Zanna, M. P., & Cooper, J. (1974). Dissonance and the pill: An attribution approach to studying the arousal properties of dissonance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29(4), 703-709.

  8. Harmon-Jones, E. (2017). Cognitive dissonance: Progress on a pivotal theory in social psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

These references provide a good starting point for understanding the history and development of cognitive dissonance theory, as well as some of the critical research that has been conducted in this area.

These are just a few examples, but cognitive dissonance can occur in many different situations and contexts.


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