Skip to content
Home » What is Cognitive Dissonance and How Do You Reduce it?

What is Cognitive Dissonance and How Do You Reduce it?

It might be tempting to listen to political pundits or social media influencers, but chances are, those people might not have the educational background and years of professional experience to qualify as experts. For instance, if you’re struggling to accept a medical development, look for the opinions of medical professionals and research scientists. Cognitive dissonance isn’t an issue in most circumstances, and cognitive or behavioral changes can help you flourish. However, if your cognitive dissonance has a negative impact on you, such as you start losing your self-confidence, justify harmful behaviors, or show signs of self-hatred, you may need to take action. Here are a few suggestions to help you deal with cognitive dissonance in these situations. Cognitive dissonance may cause people to update their beliefs and values to match their behaviors in order to cope with their discomfort.

  • Why did Princess Diana’s death inspire two very different public reactions?
  • That, at least for our species, seems to have been phylogenetically satisficing (this is, in fact, self-evidenced by our very existence, see Friston, 2018).
  • Most commonly, individuals seek to persuade or justify that there is no conflict.
  • According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent.
  • Festinger proposed this hypothesis in his 1957 book, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance.

For example, Joe strongly believed that being kind is one of the most essential aspects of being a good human. So, when he lashed out at his friend for calling him continuously, he felt extremely guilty for his impulsive behavior and wished he could’ve been calmer during that situation. In this situation, John is in a state of dissonance as he was visibly shocked by Maria’s behavior. He could either choose to rationalize the entire incident or choose to leave Maria.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Its Implications

cognitive dissonance theory theory might suggest that since votes are an expression of preference or beliefs, even the act of voting might cause someone to defend the actions of the candidate for whom they voted,[self-published source? ] and if the decision was close then the effects of cognitive dissonance should be greater. In fact, recent research has suggested that while a discrepancy between cognitions drives individuals to crave for attitude-consistent information, the experience of negative emotions drives individuals to avoid counterattitudinal information. In other words, it is the psychological discomfort which activates selective exposure as a dissonance-reduction strategy. Another way of resolving cognitive dissonance is to change the perception of action. Changing the way you see, remember, or perceive your conduct is a more complicated approach to resolution.


This would cause mental discomfort because there is cognitive dissonance. This paper discusses the aspects of the cognitive dissonance theory. Cognitive dissonance was first introduced through social psychology, but still plays a fundamental role in public relations. Cognitive dissonance explains why people change their attitudes or behaviors when they are introduced to new and contradicting information. The main components of cognitive dissonance will be analyzed in this paper, and the importance of this theory in the field of public relations will also be discussed. I have presented above the main tenets of the original composition of dissonance theory (see particularly Ch. 1 in Festinger, 1957, p. 1–31).

How is dissonance related to cognitive bias?

When the participants were asked to evaluate the experiment, the participants who were paid only $1 rated the tedious task as more fun and enjoyable than the participants who were paid $20 to lie. They were then paid either $1 or $20 to tell a waiting participant that the tasks were really interesting. Almost all of the participants agreed to walk into the waiting room and persuade the confederate that the boring experiment would be fun. We benefit, though, from approaching these inconsistencies with curiosity and grace, even when we want to change them. Developing the self-awareness to notice and question the dissonance often resolves it.

Who proposed the cognitive dissonance theory?

As presented by Festinger in 1957, dissonance theory began by postulating that pairs of cognitions (elements of knowledge) can be relevant or irrelevant to one another.

Another job of a relations person is to understand their target audience completely. When running any type of campaign, a public relations person is trying to cause a change in behavior, but before they can even do that they must know whom they are selling to. If a public relations person is good at their job, then they should be able to get their audience to choose their product over another one and will use cognitive dissonance to do this. By providing the audience with persuasive and extensive information that the public relations professional researched in-depth, then the change in behavior should be easy for whatever target audience they are selling to. The Free Killer Tan campaign done by the Mollie Biggane Fund used cognitive dissonance to get its audience to stop using tanning beds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *