An additional set of insights into the general usefulness of the dissonance formulation may be gained by exploring the implications of the theory for research in personality and clinical psychology. At least two facets of this problem are relevant to our general discussion: (1) Does dissonance theory provide some guidelines for a new perspective with regard to some of the classical personality problems like defense mechanisms, and, if so, what assumptions must be made in order to use the theory? (2) What assumptions must the theory make about individual differences, that is, how does the theory view the problem of individual differences? We will take this questions up in that order in the preset section.
In a paper aimed at clinical psychologist, Festinger and Bramel ( 1962) discuss in the detail use of the defensive projection as means of dissonance reduction. It will have been noted by now that there is a similarity between certain "defense mechanisms" discussed by psychoanalytic theory and certain avenues of dissonance reduction. Certain dissonance-reduction mechanisms appear to look very much like "rationalization" or "defensive denial," for example.