Cognitive Dissonance Psych/555 Social Psychology

Cognitive Dissonance

Psych/555 Social Psychology

University of Phoenix

(1.228 words)



Cognitive Dissonance: Issue 5


Cognitive Dissonance is a theory that evaluates the reality of cognitive psychological stresses in relation to ones attitude and behavior. According to Taking Sides: Issue 5 “Does Cognitive Dissonance Explain Why Behavior Can Change Attitudes?” (2009), several theorist have supported and questioned the clarity of dissonances consonances concepts that cause one to alter he or she’s internal stress to better behave and change necessary thoughts toward psychological stressors. Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith came to supports the Cognitive Dissonances theory as their experimentation toward cognitive behaviors through rewards posing changes in variables altered by consequential actions; furthermore, presenting the subjects with identified changes in cognitive recognition implemented proven change due to force compliance. The is experimentation used assumption through forced variables that the task was perceived boring, tedious and maladaptive to all subjects. Theorist Daryl J. Bem, questioned the validity of this experimentation that posing bias were placed on subjects and sought informational factors to enhance the subjects choice in what is seen as a individual psychological stressor or dissonances may not be the same to all subjects. Daryl J. Bem defined the use of Self Perception Theory as a determining trait that cause choice indifferences in Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Stemming from Festinger’s experimentation Bem allowed subjects to know the quality of reward and determine a just response of the finalized behavior. Bem supported personality, internal self motivation, and emotional interest toward ideas or concept is a obvious individualistic trait; thus, these traits will determine the attitude and behavior toward dissonances consonances in individual (or subjects) alteration of psychological stressors.




Consonant and Dissonant Cognitions

There is hesitation and resistance in human when encountered or exposed to change. When presented with new beliefs one’s natural resistance occur giving one logical time to process new concepts or thoughts. One has to choose how to react according toward change and this will be factored as what is questioned as in the issue of cognitive dissonance from researcher Festinger and Bem. Finding harmonic mental state of one’s thoughts, beliefs, attitude and behavior is the positive state called consonant cognition, while dissonant cognition is the opposite (non-harmonic thought patterns). Ideally, many are seeking the need to reduce dissonant  cognitive patterns, and clarify how to do so would be essential to the study of psychology.  Many are seeking the consistent thought pattern to enhance what is thought to be a healthier mental state. Yet, as psychological findings have unanswered reaction to behavior or thought patterns research are continuing to seek the value of how thoughts and cognition influence behavior. With cognition not numerically measured, controlled experimentation on cognition is done so by implementing variables to subjects in a testing form to collect data based on subjects response. Cognitive dissonance in Festinger’s thought sought to prove a daunting task as receptive in different thought patterns. Bem self-perception questions the tasking as assumed to all subjects but sought the possibility of change in consistency to thought will be valued on individualized traits or character in internal liking.



Persuasive: Bem vs Festinger & Carlsmith

Festinger and Carlsmith theoretic findings used a experiment of boring task, to be reward in convincing others of great interest as those who completed the task did not feel the same then persuading to. Conclusions had led the group given the less substantial reward found internal use of altering their cognitive interest in the task to better address their behavior in finding it suitably interesting. The results suggested that this group had less incentive to promote a specific behavior so found internal use to feel better about he behavior to do so. Festinger wanted the concept to be understood through the promotion of the variables in question, the group of less gratification from reward then had cognitive indifferences in supporting what was once seen a maladaptive behavior to find utilization of quality in the behavior; furthermore, the reward to persuading others had more effect no cognition before complying to the behavior. “Festinger’ s fundamental insight is that such (apparently self-deceptive) behavior is grounded in a drive for consistency. The existence of dissonant “cognitions,” beliefs about the world and the self, produces a “psychologically uncomfortable” state that “motivate[s] the person to try to reduce the dissonance,” (Scott-Kakures, 2009). Bem’s use of persuasion allowed the subjects to clarify the use cognition change in the those given the smaller reward. Bem’s factoring evidence is derived from the psychological knowledge of observation and emotion in how knowingly this combination of functionality can effect behavior. “Individuals come to “know” their own attitudes and other internal states partially by inferring them from observations of their own overt behavior and the circumstances in which it occurs. Thus, to the extent that information from internal cues is weak, ambiguous, or uninterpretable, the individual is functionally in the same position as an outside observer of his behavior, an observer who, necessarily, must rely upon those same external cues to infer the individual’s inner states,” (Bem & McConnell, 1970). In questioning Festinger’s, Bem focused on the subjects as inconsistent uses to experimentation in Festinger’s analysis and that the subject’s internal choice of interest in the task could have not been as Festinger thought as boring or unlikeable. Psychological research also support the indifferences in cognition a no one person like, react or thinks the same. Some bases of these facts have been applied from personality theories, character traits, and biological makeup. If Festinger’s theories are correct then one’s attitudes and behaviors can be altered due to the forced compliance of the need to accept the use of behavior to minimize psychological stressor; however, if Bem’s theories are correct the cognitive dissonance is based upon a individual’s perception of the behavior due to personalized emotional trait invested internally and the interpretation of  the self-selction. With Bem’s theory being questioned upon clarity to self-perception and perceptual influences, his findings are criticized for only showing question factors in Festinger experiment techniques less so showing disproof in Festinger cognition dissonance abilities to change. Festinger experimentation does have some questionable variables and subject factors as determining subjects interest in taskings, ideas or thoughts are limited in measurement capabilities. Ecological validity to Festinger tasking in the experimentation is also questionable as the use of moving pegs are not normally used realistic task in everyday life. Could Festinger have used a task more relateion to reality, such a chore expectation or a more culturally universal task?

Cognitive Dissonance theory is a broad theory as it touches and collaborates in various faucets of psychology. One of the hardest implications in testing the this topic is measuring cognition. Psychological measurements in thoughts is always being continuously questions finding accurate forms of experimentation is limited. The is vagueness in determining dissonance as the definition of one’s thoughts as self interest in knowledge to one behavior can be either the emotional reaction of guilt, mental inability to relate emotional, or a simple disinterest. Individual behavior reaction can also fluctuate the response as biological or natural reaction is not exclude to determine cognitive use.



















Bem, D. J., & McConnell, H. K. (1970). Testing the self-perception explanation of dissonance                  phenomena: on the salience of premanipulation attitudes. Journal of personality and                      social psychology, 14(1), 23.


Nier, J. A. (2009). Taking sides: Clashing views in social psychology. (3rd edition). New York,                NY: McGraw-Hill Education


Scott-Kakures, D. (2009). Unsettling questions: cognitive dissonance in self-deception. Social                  Theory and Practice, 73-106.


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