In 1957, Leon Festinger published a book entitled A theory of cognitive dissonance. The theory described in that volume provided the impetus for hundreds of experiments, and ultimately came to dominate the literature of attitude change during the later 1950’s and 1960’s. The core ideas of dissonance theory are not particularly complicated. The theory’s underlying assumption is that people strive to maintain consistency among their cognitions (broadly defined). The presence (or the awareness) of two conflicting cognitive elements creates a motivational state called dissonance. The intensity of this state is in direct proportion to the importance of the subject of the cognitive elements. The experience of dissonance leads to attempts to reduce the conflict among cognitive elements, by distorting, changing, devaluing, or denying one of them.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.