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Proulx and Inzlicht (2012), for instance, mischievously suggest disanxiousuncertlibrium as a term for the state of cognitive dissonance, while Harmon-Jones et al. (2009) suggest keeping the term dissonance for the state and refer to cognitive discrepancy for the triggering situation. Although the use of a unique terminology would definitely improve clarity, our point here is not to specify the consensual terms to be used, but rather to emphasize the necessity of using specific terms to designate distinct concepts instead of relying on one general term such as dissonance. Cisek (2007, p. 1568) “affordance competition hypothesis” can also be read to support this view. Selecting two contradictory actions would simply be very inefficient and impractical. Therefore, accordingly with the predictive dissonance narrative proposed in this text, any dissonant relations between competitive action hypotheses or attitudinal or intentional states pertaining to action should be reduced as quickly as possible. In this section, I introduce the main tenets of PP, particularly drawing on Clark’s (2016) work, acknowledging that any brief introduction to such a multifaceted, multidisciplinary, and multilevel account of the mind will be incomplete.

  • Fourth, this research examined emotions using structural equation modelling, which explores the “net effects” of independent variables on dependent variables (Woodside, 2014).
  • Therefore, it follows that keeping this map or mirror “responsive to reality” – by means of actively reducing dissonance – aids us in maintaining a grip on and surviving in the world (ibid.).

In the first empirical test of this theory, researchers brought in college students to perform a really boring task. They had to turn pegs on a large board for an hour, turning each peg a quarter of the way around, and then starting again at the top of the board to do another quarter turn, and so on. This theory was developed by Stanford University professor Leon Festinger and was prompted by an observational study of a fringe religious group known as the Seekers. This group believe that the West Coast was going to be destroyed by a flood on a particular day, and that “superior beings” from a planet known as Clarion would come to rescue members of this group in a flying saucer. Join 550,000+ helping professionals who get free, science-based tools sent directly to their inbox.

Dissonance Approaches

Furthermore, Festinger (1957) original work was, even in the light of new advances, quite well on track, and its basic premises should not be dismissed. Festinger’s theory proposes that inconsistency among beliefs or behaviours causes an uncomfortable psychological tension (i.e., cognitive dissonance), leading people to change one of the inconsistent elements to reduce the dissonance or to add consonant elements to restore consonance. Mrs. Keech’s followers actively enlisted new believers to obtain social support (and thereby add consonant elements) to reduce the dissonance created by the disconfirmation.

  • Cardello and Sawyer (1992) conducted a study in which consumers were given one of four different types of information about pomegranate juice, i.e. that the juice was ‘very bitter’, had ‘average bitterness’, was ‘not bitter at all’, or no information.
  • This reduces your guilt and helps you bridge the gap between your love of animals and your diet.
  • The development of home-based healthcare using smart technologies is especially important considering the pressure on healthcare systems posed by the growing ageing population (Kankanhalli et al., 2016) and in the reality of the spread of COVID-19.

In our opinion, this terminology is more integrated with the general theory (see Vaidis and Bran, 2018), as well as more connected to current knowledge (see also Proulx et al., 2012; Jonas et al., 2014; Levy et al., 2017). CD is arguably one of the more relevant cognitive phenomena in understanding the roots of the global ecological crisis. This is due to the apparently prominent role that CD plays in the so-called attitude–action gap in environmental psychology (see Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002; Kaaronen, 2017; Uren et al., 2018) as well as climate denialism and other ecological “denialisms” (Lorenzoni et al., 2007). Simply, we are not updating our predictive generative models to adequately respond to the urgency at hand. Therefore, studying CD in this day and age might be more important than ever before.

Dissonance due to Inconsistency between Commitment and Information

They emphasized afterwards that different affect assessments could capture the nature of cognitive dissonance depending on the situation (Devine et al., 1999). Despite this clarification, most researchers using the scale continue to use the index in its original form, thus dissociating CDS from the other items (Galinsky et al., 2000; Harmon-Jones, 2000; Norton et al., 2003; Monin et al., 2004; Vaidis and Gosling, 2011). In another perspective, Kenworthy et al. (2011) have suggested that guilt could be the most relevant predictor of dissonance effects instead of a specific CDS, thus making a clear distinction between the two.

However, some of the core hypotheses of CDT have not been as thoroughly examined and, in their case, the field may benefit from an increased standardization. For instance, counter-attitudinal essays have been investigated with various topics and many differences concerning the instructions, the time course (e.g., length, temporal distance between the induction and the assessments) and the task (e.g., argument, essay, speech). 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.

A Biosocial Model of Affective Decision Making

So when you fall out of that perfect harmony and either think or act in opposition to your belief system, tension builds and you become distressed. Another example to note is how people mostly consume media that aligns with their political views. In a study done in 2015, participants were shown “attitudinally consistent, challenging, or politically balanced online news.” Results showed that the participants trusted attitude-consistent news the most out of all the others, regardless of the source.

In other words, selectively ignoring and not learning from dissonant social information might turn out to be a sound long-term strategy. This might afford a new window for understanding the “origins of CD” and why dissonance occurs not only with adult humans but also other cognitive (prediction error reducing) organisms such human infants as capuchin monkeys (Egan et al., 2007). After all, any PP organism will seek to reduce long-term prediction error, so it is perhaps little surprise that cognitive phenomena such as dissonance are found in other species. The upshot is that if dissonance is related to prediction error, then it is at least not at the most fundamental level a socio-culturally acquired “learned secondary drive” (as cautiously suggested by Cooper, 2007, p. 87–89), but rather something any organism with a predictive engine will to an extent experience. The “origin” of the psychological sensation of dissonance, from the PP perspective, would then be its role in motivating prediction error reduction in the long term.

Cognitive dissonance: What to know

Finally, many of the studies supporting the theory of cognitive dissonance have low ecological validity. For example, turning pegs (as in Festinger’s experiment) is an artificial task that doesn’t happen in everyday life. When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance. Such a result was observed because the group of people who were paid $1 had no valid justification to claim that the task was interesting. Hence they chose to alter their attitude toward the task to bring them back to a state of equilibrium and not feel that they were making a false claim. People engage in attitude-discrepant behaviors when the behavior seems good or appealing to them and when the attitude isn’t strong enough to hinder them from engaging in certain behavior.

cognitive dissonance theory

If we make a speech counter to our opinions, we must reduce the magnitude of dissonance by recruiting consonant cognitions. If we can rationalize our behavior by adding reconciliatory cognitive elements (e.g., “I got paid for this” or “I was forced to do this”), the amount of dissonance will diminish, as Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) argued. However, the same phenomenon can also be interpreted from the PP perspective, whereby the magnitude (the gain or volume) of prediction errors can be reduced by recruiting alternative hypotheses, which “explain away” the prediction error (see particularly Ch. 2 in Clark, 2016). Therefore, increasing the number of “consonant” predictions (by recruiting these higher level hypotheses) would reduce the volume of prediction error. The magnitude of dissonance, therefore, seems to be from the PP perspective particularly related to the gain or volume of prediction error units.

New judgments about the present and predictions about the future were made that were consistent with the original belief, with the disconfirming event being treated like a bump in the road. After disconfirmation, for example, there was a sharp increase in the frequency with which group members decided that other cognitive dissonance theory people who telephoned them or visited their group were actually spacemen. They tried to get orders and messages from the “spacemen” for a future reality that would be consistent with their original beliefs. Third, people are likely to prefer to attain their desired ends in ways that satisfy multiple motives.

What are the three main claims of cognitive dissonance theory?

Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory has three components: the inner conflict, the discomfort caused by the inner conflict, and the attempt to resolve the discomfort. Furthermore, there are multiple ways people may try to resolve their discomfort.

The reduction of energy and water usage through smart systems brings financial efficiency (Balta-Ozkan et al., 2014a, Zhou et al., 2016), which is important for rational and price-conscious people in low- and middle-income households (Wilson et al., 2014). Also, the technical sophistication of smart homes and constant upgrades make the technology attractive for technology enthusiasts seeking constant ICT enhancement (Park et al., 2003). The use of the term inconsistency to point out the presence of unfitting relations has already been proposed in the literature (e.g., Harmon-Jones, 2002; Gawronski and Strack, 2012). However, the state of cognitive dissonance, or CDS, is not always distinguished from the term for the theory, and they should be clearly differentiated.


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