Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory

Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory

Cognitive dissonance occurs when there is a discrepancy between one’s behavior and attitudes. To resolve the dissonance, the inconsistency has to be resolved. This can be done by changing an individual’s attitudes or behavior. The theory states that there is a propensity for people to seek constancy in their thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. When these inconsistencies occur between behaviors and attitudes, there has to be some change to remove the dissonance (Bruner, Brunswik, Festinger, Heider, Muenzinger, Osgood & Austin, 2017).

Dissonance can be solved by changing either one’s attitudes or one’s behavior. In the case of a discrepancy between attitude and behavior, most likely the view changes to accommodate conduct (Perlovsky, 2017). Strong dissonance is created when two substitutes are likewise in attraction. The theory is based on three essential assumptions namely: that human beings are sensitive to inconsistencies between beliefs and actions, dissonance will occur if the discrepancies are recognized, and this will motivate one to resolve the dissonance and the three ways of addressing the dissonance (Bruner et al., 2017).

There are three methods to reduce dissonance which include reducing the significance of the dissonant theories, adding more consonant theories that outweigh the dissonant beliefs and changing the dissonant beliefs rendering them inconsistent (Perlovsky, 2017). A perfect example of the approach: let us consider an individual who procures an expensive vehicle that is not comfy for long drives.

Dissonance occurs between their opinions that the car bought is good and that it should be comfy. In such a scenario, elimination of dissonance can be by deciding to focus on the vehicle’s strengths such as appearance, safety, convenience. This method involves adding more consonance in the belief. Another way to solve this is by getting rid of the vehicle by selling which is way harder to accomplish than to alter the opinion.


Bruner, J. S., Brunswik, E., Festinger, L., Heider, F., Muenzinger, K. F., Osgood, C. E., … & Austin, G. A. (2017). The Emergence of Cognitive Psychology Robert R. Holt, Ph. D.

Perlovsky, L. (2013). A challenge to human evolution—cognitive dissonance. Frontiers in Psychology4.

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