Academic journal article Researchers World

Cognitive Dissonance: A Review of Causes and Marketing Implications

Academic journal article Researchers World

Cognitive Dissonance: A Review of Causes and Marketing Implications

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION:

Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological discomfort that occurs when a discrepancy exists between what a person believes and the information that contradicts that belief. Festinger (1957) introduced the concept of cognitive dissonance after conducting an observational study of a cult (dubbed as "Seekers" by Festinger and his associates), which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood on 21st Dec 1955. Festinger and his associates predicted their behavior if the flood did not occur and subsequently they observed and studied how the members reacted when the flood did not occur. While some members felt they were fooled and considered this as an experience but the more committed members re -interpreted the evidence to show that they were all correct throughout and the earth was saved because of their efforts as if they were trying to justify their actions and faith (Cooper, 2007). Festinger stated that if a person holds two cognitions/cognitive elements ("knowledges" about himself, his environment, his opinions, his attitudes and his past behavior) that are inconsistent with one another, he will experience dissonance and will try to reduce it in one of the three ways: remove dissonant cognitions, add new consonant cognitions, or reduce the importance of dissonant cognitions. Festinger further explained that Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological phenomenon and that occurs when a discrepancy exists between what person believes and the information that contradicts that belief. The consumer encounters a feeling of "regret" after taking a decision or making a purchase. This regret is due to the opposing cognitions / cognitive elements. If one cognitive element follows logically from another cognitive element, then both are said to be consonant to each other. However, those are dissonant to each other if one does not follow logically from other, thereby causing a feeling of "regret" (Festinger, 1957). The two major outcomes of the Cognitive Dissonance theory were the concept of cognition and the magnitude of dissonance. Higher the discrepancy between cognitions, higher is the magnitude of the dissonance. The origination of the concept of Cognitive Dissonance can be traced back to children and monkeys (Egan, Santos, & Bloom, 2007) to arrive to the explanation that it depends on the past knowledges acquired by an individual. The literature review indicates that enough research has been carried out and published since the formulation of the theory of cognitive dissonance (Aronson, 1992; Brehm & Cohen, 1962; Cummings & Venkatesan, 1976; Egan et al., 2007; E. Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999; Hunt, 1970; O'Neill & Palmer, 2004; Oshikawa, 1968; Powers & Jack, 20 13; Soutar & Sweeney, 2003; Jillian C. Sweeney, Hausknecht, & Soutar, 2000; Telc i, Maden, & Kantur, 2011; Young, 2011). The cognitive dissonance theory assumes a drive like motivation to maintain consistency among the relevant thoughts and actions. The theory of cognitive dissonance is one of the groups of cybernetic theories called consistency theories, all of which begin with the same premise: people are more comfortable with consistency than inconsistency (Heider, 1946). The evolution of the theory of cognitive dissonance seems to have developed with the notion that people are more comfortable with consistency than inconsistency and try to resist, avoid or change the contradictory information and knowledges.

Various researchers tried to reject the theory out rightly (Chapanis & Chapanis, 1964; Elms & Janis, 1965; Rosenberg, 1965), provided modifications to the theory (Linder, Cooper, & Jones, 1967) and counter the cognitive dissonance theory with concepts such as individual concepts and actions, self -esteem (Aronson & Carlsmith, 1968) discrepancies between attitude and behavior (Bem, 1967), unwanted consequence (Cooper & Fazio, 1984), self-awareness (Duval & Wicklund, 1972) and moral integrity (Steele, 1988). …

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