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Cognitive Dissonance and Its Reduction Case Study

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Updated: May 5th, 2020

The cognitive dissonance theory is very useful when predicting human behavior. Cognitive dissonance is a study of how humans adjust their behaviors with the view of attaining internal consistency. Consequently, human beings tend to shun experiences of dissonance because they lead to psychological imbalance.

The need to eliminate cognitive dissonance makes human beings act in a manner that counteracts the disparity in psychological feelings, and this is known as dissonance reduction. Since its premiere, cognitive dissonance has been expounded by various other psychologists. This paper presents research on the topic of cognitive dissonance and dissonance reduction using available and recent literature on this subject.

In the article titled, “A Dynamic Model of Dissonance Reduction in a Modular Mind,” the author sets up an experiment to identify how individuals engage in dissonance reduction (Karagozoglu, 2014). The author of this article is Emin Karagozoglu, a tutor at Bilkent University. The article details a research experiment in which the test subjects were exposed to two dissonant factors. The dissonant factors were expected to trigger dissonance reduction among the test subjects.

The author of the article isolated the element of ‘habituation’ as a major contributor to the manifestation of cognitive reduction. Another article that touches on the topic of cognitive dissonance is the one titled “Dissonance and Prejudice.” The authors of this article are staff members at Saint Louis University’s Department of Psychology. This article touches on the subject of cognitive dissonance in relation to racial prejudice.

In the experiment that was used to unravel the cognitive dissonance factors, white students were requested to come up with a scholarship policy that could counter the attitudes of black students. In addition, the counter-attitude policy came at a cost to the fraternity of the white students. The authors of this article found out that the test subjects were more accommodating to the attitudes of the minority students after the experiment (Eisenstadt, Leippe, Stambush & Rauch, 2009).

The cognitive dissonance of the test subjects made the white students be more accommodative of minority student groups as a means of dissonance reduction. The third article is by David Vaidis and Dominique Oberle, and it is titled “Approaching Opponents and Leaving Supporters” (Vaidis & Oberle, 2014). In this article, the authors set up an experiment where students with opposing viewpoints were asked to set up a meeting and discuss their views.

The experimenters then measured the physical distance between the two students and related it to the level of agreeability between the two students. The results of this experiment indicated that physical proximity was more when students had opposing points of view than when they concurred.

Another article that addresses the topic of cognitive dissonance is the one titled “Reduction in Cognitive Dissonance According to Normative Standards in the Induced Compliance Paradigm” (Voisin & Fointiat, 2013). This article is authored by two French university lecturers and social psychologists Voisin Voisin and Valerie Fointiat. The experiment that is described in the article seeks to establish the various levels of discrepancy when gauging cognitive dissonance.

The authors of the four articles address various aspects of cognitive dissonance with the view of eliminating it. According to the articles, cognitive dissonance can be examined from various angles. The most fundamental principle in cognitive dissonance is that human beings are responsive to the discrepancies between their beliefs and actions. Consequently, human beings have the ability to recognize that they are acting in a manner that goes against their core beliefs, albeit involuntarily.

The behaviors that result from the realization that actions are inconsistent with beliefs are the main points of interest for social psychology researchers. For instance, Emin Karagozoglu sets out to investigate how habituation factors in cognitive dissonance. In her article, the author argues that intrapersonal conflict is a major determinant of the course that is taken by cognitive dissonance and its resulting dissonance reduction.

Consequently, from Karagozoglu’s research, it is clear that personal beliefs are a major source of intrapersonal conflicts. The levels of intrapersonal research influence both the actions of the individual and the direction taken by the aforementioned individual’s dissonance reduction functionalities. In Karagozoglu’s research findings, it is indicated that human beings are sensitive to the conflict that results from the presence of dissonance between actions and beliefs.

The claims that are contained in Karagozoglu’s article are also replicated in Voisin and Fointiat’s article. According to this article, cognitive dissonance can be reduced by the presence of what human beings might consider being normative standards. Human beings act in a manner that disintegrates the element of cognitive dissonance among human beings.

For instance, according to the article on normative standards, when people act in a discrepant manner, they often follow up this act with trivialization (Vaidis & Oberle, 2014). Therefore, trivialization comes from the knowledge that human beings are acting in a manner that contradicts their core beliefs. Karagozoglu, Voisin, and Fointiat all appear to agree that human behaviors are strongly influenced by what they believe to the right course of action.

When human beings realize that there is a discrepancy between their actions and what they believe to be true, they are motivated to adjust their behaviors. This adjustment in behavior is the object of research in the article by Vaidis and Oberle. In this article, the authors set out to investigate how several students adjust their behaviors when they realize that their counterparts do not agree with them (Vaidis & Oberle, 2014).

The findings of the article indicate that the physical proximity between students who agreed with each other was comparably less than that of those who disagreed. The adjustment in the students’ behaviors is an indicator of how individuals can be motivated to act in a certain manner when discrepancies are present. Cognitive dissonance researchers also sought to find out how the feelings towards minorities change in the face of dissonance reduction.

In the article titled “Dissonance and Prejudice,” the authors introduced an independent motivator to the test subjects. When the tests subjects realized that they were going to cater for the costs of an attitude-change in minority students, their feelings towards minorities changed considerably (Eisenstadt et al., 2009).

Cognitive dissonance theory addresses behavioral adjustments from a perspective of how human beings rationalize their behaviors. According to the course materials that have been covered in class so far, dissonance will be manifested in three different ways; change in beliefs, actions, and perceptions. All the articles that have been addressed in this paper conduct experiments in regard to various manifestations of dissonance.

In the first article, Karagozoglu finds out that dissonance can be manifested through a change in the perception of actions. Consequently, Karagozoglu finds out that people might continue to live with conflicting actions whilst trying to change their perceptions of these actions (Karagozoglu, 2014). On the other hand, the article on “Dissonance and Prejudice” shows how students react to dissonance by changing their attitudes towards minorities.

The students’ changing behaviors are a manifestation of the dissonance reduction that occurs when intrapersonal conflict occurs. In Voisin and Fointiat’s article, compliance with dissonance is induced through the introduction of discrepant acts (Voisin & Fointiat, 2013). Consequently, the researchers establish that induced dissonance prompts individuals to change their beliefs. In the experimented scenario, individuals react to dissonance by overestimating the importance of a certain research topic.

In the article that is titled “Approaching Opponents and Leaving Supporters,” the researchers are trying to establish how dissonance reduction can be achieved in a particular scenario (Vaidis & Oberle, 2014). In the article’s findings, the researchers establish that bringing opponents close together can achieve cognitive dissonance. These findings are based on the knowledge that dissonance is manifested through a change in behavior where opposing individuals increase the amount of physical proximity between them.

The chapter on cognitive dissonance provided students with a viable method of exploring their world. Cognitive dissonance also enables individuals to understand their own behaviors and actions with respect to their beliefs. The articles that are explored in this paper provide readers with various dimensions of cognitive dissonance.

In these articles, the researchers set out to establish the manifestations, causes, and effects of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is responsible for various forms of dissonance reduction, including changes in beliefs, perceptions, and actions. Individuals change their behaviors with the view of balancing the inner conflicts between actions and beliefs. The four research articles are consistent, and they provide a uniform analysis of the theoretical concepts of cognitive dissonance.


Eisenstadt, D., Leippe, M. R., Stambush, M. A., & Rauch, S. M. (2009). Dissonance and prejudice: Personal costs, choice, and change in attitudes and racial beliefs following counterattitudinal advocacy that benefits a minority. Basic and applied social psychology, 27(2), 127-141.

Karagozoglu, E. (2014). A dynamic model of dissonance reduction in a modular mind. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 7(1), 15.

Vaidis, D. C., & Oberle, D. (2014). Approaching opponents and leaving supporters: Adjusting physical proximity to reduce cognitive dissonance. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 42(7), 1091-1098.

Voisin, D., & Fointiat, V. (2013). Reduction in cognitive dissonance according to normative standards in the induced compliance paradigm. Social Psychology, 44(3), 191-195.

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