Explorations in Cognitive Dissonance

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

16 Summary and perspective

CONCEPTUAL SUMMARY

Throughout this book we have attempted to present some idea of the scope and generality of dissonance theory. In discussing experimental tests of the theory, in indicating the directions of its extension, in comparing and evaluating it with regard to other theoretical models, and in illustrating some of its social applications, we have shown the range of phenomena to which the theory can be applied.

It should be evident by now that the theory is different in its essential nature from most other theoretical models in psychology. Where the major concern in other theories has been largely with the guidance of behavior--that is, with what leads to a given behavior or commitment--dissonance theory deals, at least in part, with the consequences of a given behavior or commitment. It suggests that some aspects of the modification of behavior can be best understood in terms of post- commitment factors rather than in terms of instrumental and/or reinforcement factors.

We have given many illustrations of this connection between commitment and subsequent change in perception, cognition, and motivation. We have shown that the theory has predictive power with regard to free choice, forced compliance, and exposure situations.

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