As we have seen, most tests of dissonance theory have concentrated on attitudinal effects of the psychological tension produced by cognitive dissonance. They may thereby have neglected motivation as a dimension around which dissonance can be reduced in any situation. In addition, Festinger's theoretical formulation does not clearly specify the motivational control of the arousal of dissonance. That is, it is not presently clear in his statement of the theory exactly what is the effect of frustration of certain motivational states (attendant upon engaging in discrepant behavior) on the creation and resolution of dissonance and what are the implications of such dissonance resolution for goal-directed behavior.
It seems reasonable to assume that cognitive aspects of motivation are affected by dissonance in much the same way as other types of cognitions, such as opinions. It has long been obvious that motivation as a force producing behavior has various cognitive components. These components we closely related to the verbal reports that an individual can make about his motivational state (e.g., statements about the type and magnitude of his desires). Given this view of motivation, the dissonance formulation, which is directed toward the study of cognitive change, should permit increased understanding of at least the cognitive side of motivation.