Explorations in Cognitive Dissonance

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

13 Dissonance and decisional processes

DECISION STABILIZATION

The dissonance formulation generally holds that dissonance is a necessary consequence of choice between alternatives or choice to engage in some discrepant behavior. The amount of dissonance and subsequent attempts at resolving it are coordinated to the host of variables mentioned in Part II: importance, attractiveness, and so forth. Thus, for example, the more evidence there is that a person has made a "wrong decision" (i.e., the greater the dissonance), the more he will like and seek support for his original decision until, as dissonance reaches its limit he revokes his decision or changes his behavor (see Festinger, 1957, pp. 126-131, 162-176, and Cohen, Brehm and Latané, 1959). We also assume that as a result of being chosen a number of times, an item might finally be chosen over an even more attractive alternative, simply as a function of postdecisional dissonance reduction. Thus the theory is concerned with new experiences with the chosen object that may follow after its choice as well as with the imminent consequences of choice. Deutsch, Krauss and Rosenau ( 1962) argue that such a process may be maladaptive in that it leads the person to distort the evidence surrounding him in his environment. They claim that while it is possible that the decision process contains a maladap

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