The Relationship between Cognitive Dissonance and Decision-Making Styles in a Sample of Female Students at the University of Umm Al Qura

By Allahyani, Mariam Hameed Ahmed | Education, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

The Relationship between Cognitive Dissonance and Decision-Making Styles in a Sample of Female Students at the University of Umm Al Qura


Allahyani, Mariam Hameed Ahmed, Education


Introduction:

People strive to get their opinions and attitudes internally match with each other, i.e. there is some sort of harmony between what the individual knows and what he believes and does; but sometimes the individual behavior may come in contrast with his believes. For example, the person may know that smoking is harmful to his health, but still he continues to smoke. This type of contradiction is what is called by Festinger "the cognitive dissonance" (Festinger, 1957). This concept has been widely & repeatedly dealt with since it was reached that dissonance could affect the decision-making process (Soutar & Sweeney, 2003).

The Cognitive Dissonance suggests that some cognitions of the individual are not consistent with each other. Such cognition may represent any type of notion, opinion, or believe on the environment, self or personal conduct. People sometimes find themselves doing actions that are not suitable or consistent to their knowledge, or they may express opinions that are not consistent with their original opinions (Festinger, 1957). Eliot & Devine (1994) observed that Cognitive Dissonance appears through the psychological discomfort (Soutar & Sweeney, 2003). Festinger sees the cognitive dissonance as a motivational tension as any other type of tension that needs to be reduced. This definite state of dissonance, which directs the cognitive activity, can be seen as a previous state which leads to an activity directed to minimize the dissonance same as hunger leads to an activity directed to minimize hunger (Festinger, 1957; 3).

Cognitive dissonance, according to Festinger (1957), is considered a continuous process because the individual cannot control the information and the events that occur in his environment which may be consonant to each other. Dissonance has a nature that motivate individuals to seek for more information and opinions that support their attitudes and believes against the information that support the reversed direction in a trial to minimize the dissonance.

Dissonance is considered as an important result of the choice between alternatives, or selection of the link to some contradictory types of behavior, and the amount of dissonance and subsequent attempts to resolve are consistent with the variables, such as importance, attractiveness, and so on. This appears more pronounced when the individual takes a "wrong decision" (i.e., whenever dissonance is greater), and thus he may more wish to search support to his original decision, where dissonance arrived its higher level, and will invalidate its decision or change its behavior (Brehm & Cohen, 1962). Sometimes the process of fear from dissonance could lead to make the individual fearful or reluctant to behaviorally commit himself, Also fear from dissonance may lead the person to decide or to commit himself to take a decision or to oblige himself to do so, and when it is not possible to delay decision-making and conduct, the conduct may be accompanied by denial of knowledge to the action (Festinger, 1957).

Salovic (1990) considers that the decision-making is the essence of intelligent behavior. Murrey (1986, p 237) defines it as "the process by which a choice between alternatives in order to achieve the objectives of the Organization". Weiss (1983) mentioned that the decision-making is a function of the individual information and his personal ideology and concerns. Petrides & Guiney (2000) believe that decision-making is an authoritarian effective process where individual values and beliefs are the base for the decision-making process. These researchers, in addition to others, recognize that decision-making is a cognitive process (Jacoby, 2007).

The study on decision-making and decision styles originated and developed during the last century. In the 1960s, researches began to focus in particular on individual decision-making and decision-making styles. Driver & Streufert (1969) have developed a model for styles to check the information processing of the person and his capabilities for problem solving. …

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