Cognitive Dissonance Analysis

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Cognitive Dissonance Analysis


Cognitive Dissonance

The dissonance theory, a widely used theory, provides knowledge on attitude and behavior to peers and the public. On the contrary, critics also focus in the information given in the theories and confute other views. Festinger, Carlsmith, and Bem contend that cognitive dissonance and self-perception plays a vital part in find out the consequences and impacts of conduct and character.

Summary of Arguments

The theory of cognitive dissonance, formulated by Leon Festinger, offers greater emphasis to the area of personality and social psychology. It states that a person looks for harmony in his or her ideas and behaviors in which two known concepts are not uniform (Fiske, 2010). Cognitive dissonance theory explains the reason why a person can alter his or her character and conduct after acting in ways not constant with those behaviors. Together with social psychologist James Carlsmith, Festinger contends that the cognitive dissonance theory gives an explanation why people’s manners are altered following their varying manner with anger after they have acted inconsistently with their true behavior (Nier, 2009). During the period of an experiment performed by Festinger and Carlsmith in 1959, subjects were asked to complete many boring assignments. The subjects were asked about the tasks by possible subjects who invented their response. They said that that they delight in the tasks that agree with the confuted argument made by Festinger and Carlsmith on cognitive dissonance.

As Daryl Bem supports the Self-Perception Theory, he contends with Festinger and Carlsmith’s theory by stating that Self-perception theory is able to interpret attitude and behavior better than the latter. Formulated by Bem (1965), Self-perception theory suggests that “people infer their own character, ideals, and other internal states attitudes, opinions, and other internal states partly by examining their behavior and the situations in which that behavior happens” (Fiske, 2010, p109). According to the theory, looking into one’s own mind and feelings does not guarantee appropriate guidance, as internal hints are sometimes deceptive; just as an outside observer can incorrectly understand another individual’s internal state (Fiske, 2010).

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