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Leon Festinger Cognitive dissonance

Participants had no time limit to write their essay and it was emphasized that the content of their essay was the main focus of the research. One of us , who was a protégé of Festinger in the mid-’50s, advanced cognitive-dissonance theory by demonstrating the powerful, yet nonobvious, role it plays when the concept of self is involved. Dissonance is most painful when evidence strikes at the heart of how we see ourselves—when it threatens our belief that we are kind, ethical, competent, or smart. The minute we make any decision—I’ll buy this car; I will vote for this candidate; I think COVID-19 is serious; no, I’m sure it is a hoax—we will begin to justify the wisdom of our choice and find reasons to dismiss the alternative. Before long, any ambivalence we might have felt at the time of the original decision will have morphed into certainty.

Who developed the cognitive dissonance theory?

The cognitive dissonance theory was developed by Stanford University professor Leon Festinger prompted by his observational studies.

Some researchers argue that the theory is somewhat ambiguous and that the results obtained from studies may be confounded by other cognitive processes, such as impression management and self-perception. In fact, several other explanations have been generated to account for the results obtained in Festinger and Carlsmith's one dollar/twenty dollar study. Self-affirmation theory suggests that people with high self-esteem are less prone to dissonance than those with low self-esteem since they have more positive attributes in their self-concept to draw on. Have you ever had the experience of investing a lot of time and energy into something, only to realize much later on that it wasn't worth all the effort? If so, you are likely familiar with the uncomfortable sense of dissonance that can result from such a situation. Let's say your doctor recommends that you exercise five times per week , but you only do so twice a week , you would likely experience dissonance, but not as much as you would if you did not exercise at all. In the latter case, there would be a greater discrepancy between what you know you should be doing and what you actually do.

What are some effects of cognitive dissonance?

As you can imagine, participant's attitudes toward this task were highly negative. The arrows indicate the expected belief strength of the information group before tasting the coffee. In other words, it seems that everyone does experience dissonance from time to time—but what causes dissonance for one person might not for someone else.

  • This initial idea that people may change their beliefs to justify how they feel is what later blossomed into cognitive dissonance theory.
  • Moreover, educational software that applies the derived principles facilitates the students' ability to successfully handle the questions posed in a complex subject.
  • If the CDS is a specific state, then instruments should allow the CDS to be distinguished from other negative emotions.
  • In the late 1970s he turned to questions about human nature raised by archeological data.

After playing alone, the control-group children later devalued the importance of the forbidden toy. cognitive dissonance theory In the variable group, classical music played in the background while the children played alone.

How to Spot Cognitive Dissonance

In this way, he would be decreasing the importance of the dissonant cognition (smoking is bad for one's health). However, this mode of dissonance reduction frequently presents problems for people, as it is often difficult for people to change well-learned behavioral responses (e.g., giving up smoking).

cognitive dissonance theory

For example, in one study by Stone and his colleagues , college students were asked to give a speech advocating safe-sex practices and were then asked to think about times when they failed to engage in safe sex. The hypocrisy of advocating practices which they themselves do not always engage in led to dissonance on their part. At the end of the study, these students were more likely to purchase condoms than the other participants in whom dissonance had not been induced.

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