Explorations in Cognitive Dissonance

By Jack W. Brehm; Arthur R. Cohen | Go to book overview

Inconsistency between cognitions 2

Before beginning our review of the evidence relevant to dissonance theory, it might be profitable to discuss some of the problems inherent in the present statement of the theory insofar as it attempts to be precise about the the determinants of dissonance arousal This discussion will center around the major issue of inconsistency between cognition. We shall consider how the theory might view opinions and attitudes. This discussion of conceptual problems will not delve deeply into what we consider basic theoretical issues in the theory; we shall discuss some of these issues in Chapter 11.

A fundamental condition for the creation of dissonance in a person is that he have two cognitions which are somehow discrepant with each other. As we have indicated, Festinger's statement of this condition is that one cognition "follows from the obverse of the other" ( 1957, p. 13). Since Festinger his already noted that the "follows from" relationship can sometimes be determined empirically but is limited by our abilities to specify and measure cognitions and the relationships among them, there is no point in our carrying this particular problem further. The variety of supportive research to be presented in the next chapters will show amply that the "follows from" relationship can be specified to a sufficiently precise degree for the

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