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Cognitive Dissonance: Theory, Examples & How to Reduce It

They were asked to rate how interesting they had found the discussion and how interesting they had found the people involved in it. Participants in the high-dissonance condition chose between a highly desirable product and one rated just 1 point lower on the 8-point scale. After reading the reports about the various products, individuals rated the products again. While fringe members were more inclined to recognize that they had made fools of themselves and to “put it down to experience,” committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along . Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education.

On the other hand, the cognitive dissonance theory is consistent with each of the selected option’s good elements, and the rejected alternative’s bad aspects. Difficult decisions should elicit more dissonance than easy decisions because a difficult decision will result in a higher proportion of discordant cognitions than an easy one. As a result, there will be more desirable to alleviate cognitive dissonance following a tough decision. Dissonance after a choice can be decreased by eliminating negative characteristics of the selected option, adding good aspects to the rejected alternative, or adding negative aspects to the chosen alternative or positive aspects to the rejected alternative. When the characteristics of the choice alternatives are changed to lessen dissonance, the selected option becomes more appealing, and the rejected alternative becomes less desired.

Predictive Dissonance

So, if we engage in a behavior that is not in line with our attitudes, we will change our attitudes to match our behavior in order to reduce this arousal. Researchers wanted to investigate whether cognitive dissonance can be beneficial and can lead to positive changes in the community. Through their study, they concluded that cognitive dissonance can be employed in specific situations to elicit a feeling of “hypocrisy” in the participants which would, in turn, pave way for behavioral changes. Various studies have been undertaken to prove that cognitive dissonance leads to specific physiological responses in the form of arousal. Researchers studied the brain waves of those who engaged in unpleasant tasks that weren’t justified enough and found a lower level of alpha waves in their neural activity.


While cognitive dissonance is often described as something widely and regularly experienced, efforts to capture it in studies don’t always work, so it could be less common than has been assumed. People do not necessarily experience discomfort in response to every apparent contradiction in their thoughts and beliefs. Think about a time when you experienced cognitive dissonance in your own life. Write an essay of at least one to two pages that explains the situation that produced cognitive dissonance. Discuss which of the three stages you experienced that caused you to feel cognitive dissonance.

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What is cognitive dissonance theory examples?

Examples of cognitive dissonance

Eating meat: Some people who view themselves as animal lovers eat meat and may feel discomfort when they think about where their meat comes from. Some researchers refer to this as the “meat paradox.”