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Cognitive Dissonance: Theory and Practice Report (Assessment)

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Empirical Source

Dechawatanapaisal, D., & Siengthai, S. (2006). The impact of the cognitive dissonance on learning work behavior. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(1), 42-54.

The purpose of the study was to identify the factors that impact the learning behavior of individuals in the workplace, with a specific focus on the psychological discomfort caused by the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance.

According to the literature review, learning is an essential component of the contemporary organizational culture. The authors argue that it provides the organizations with means of sustaining their level of proficiency and, by extension, maintaining a competitive advantage. However, the success of a learning process depends on several factors, including employee involvement. By reviewing the available literature on the topic, the authors point to the fact that while the employee perspective is widely covered in the theoretical literature, it lacks sufficient empirical investigation. At the same time, cognitive dissonance in its various manifestations is expected to have a profound effect on workplace behavior, including the efficiency and productivity of learning. At the same time, there are reasons to believe that short-term exposure to cognitive dissonance may yield a positive result of better adaptation to change.

Based on the information derived from the literature, the researchers pose three questions.

  • How does cognitive dissonance influence learning work behavior?
  • Do effective HR practices decrease cognitive dissonance?
  • Do effective HR practices improve learning work behavior?

Three hypotheses were formulated to address the questions above:

  • H1. “There is an inverted U-shape relationship between cognitive dissonance and learning work behavior” (Dechawatanapaisal & Siengthai, 2006, p. 44).
  • H2. “The effective HR practices related to staffing, training, and development, performance appraisal, and rewards are inversely related to cognitive dissonance” (Dechawatanapaisal & Siengthai, 2006, p. 46).
  • H3. “The effective HR practices that are related to staffing, training and development, performance appraisal, and rewards are positively associated with learning work behavior” (Dechawatanapaisal & Siengthai, 2006, p. 46).

The research design chosen by the team was a quantitative analysis of the primary data. The data was obtained by administering a survey based on the semi-structured interview design. The sample consisted of 205 employees from three organizations in Thailand with a recent experience of changing as a result of business reengineering. The sample had a response rate of 79 percent.

The independent variable in the study was the condition of cognitive dissonance. The dependent variables included training and development, performance appraisal, rewards, and learning work behavior.

The seven-point Likert scale was used to collect the data. The regression analysis was used to process the obtained data, and the statistical significance was calculated for the results to determine their reliability. The authors do not provide details on the specific statistical instruments or tools used in the process of statistical analysis.

The findings suggest that cognitive dissonance significantly undermines the effectiveness of workplace learning, but appropriate HR practices can mitigate the effect.

The results imply the wide applicability of HR practices and clarify their effect on the overall productivity of the organization.

The study is primarily valuable because it covers a relatively under-researched area. Another strong point is a framework used by the team that can be applied for further inquiries in the area.

The main limitation of the study is the focus on employee perspective without the confirmation of the factual changes in performance. Furthermore, the difference in changes undergone in three organizations can be considered a confounding variable.

While the study is not directly related to the area of leadership, it provides a basis for inquiry on the effect of cognitive dissonance in the organizational setting. In the literature review, it fits within the organizational context chapter and clarifies the areas of employee behavior likely impacted by inner conflict in leadership. The study can also serve as a connection between the theoretical sources on cognitive dissonance and those dealing with a leader’s role in human resource management in the organization.

Non-Empirical Source

Festinger, L. (1957) A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

The theory of cognitive dissonance developed by Leon Festinger became one of the most important milestones in the area of social psychology and mechanisms of motivation. The fundamental principles of the theory can be summarized as follows: individuals are predisposed towards organizing their inner beliefs, values, and views in accord and avoid situations that disrupt such an organization, leading to dissonance.

This state of harmony is called cognitive consistency and can be observed whenever the conflicts between cognitions occur (Festinger, 1957). In such a situation, according to the author, after experiencing dissatisfaction with the undesirable state, an affected individual starts seeking a way to bring consistency to a situation (Festinger, 1957). On some occasions, when there is no apparent way of establishing intersection points between the conflicting cognitions, people will seek consistency through irrational and possibly disruptive behavior. The state of tension between the beliefs and views held for a long time and the powerful newly acquired ones is termed cognitive dissonance and is considered emotionally and psychologically unsettling. Thus, it serves as a stimulus for seeking a new equilibrium and restoring harmony (termed “consonance” by the author).

The book has several strengths. First, the theory provided by the author is based on thorough case studies and is backed by a robust theoretical framework. Festinger (1957) based his implications on the observations of groups of people with diverse backgrounds and obtained relatively similar sets of data, which allowed for verification of the results. Another important strength is the flexibility of the model suggested by the author that allows for the application of his model to a wide range of fields of different scope. In the context of the study at hand, it is possible to apply the theory to the workplace setting in general or a specific area of leader’s activity with minor adjustments.

However, several limitations of the source should be recognized. First, it is possible to assert that the strength of the experienced dissonance may be insufficient for motivating the affected individuals. However, because cognitive dissonance is hard to measure, such a situation undermines the testability of the theory, making it hard to falsify and thus undermining its credibility. Second, because of the inability to weight the effect, it is unclear how significant is the effect of cognitive dissonance in comparison to accompanying factors. It is possible, for instance, that stress associated with change influences employee behavior more significantly than the motivation resulting from cognitive dissonance.

Therefore, the theory can be used as a starting point and a part of the theoretical background but needs to be accompanied by alternative frameworks to avoid inconsistencies.

For the literature review, this book serves as one of the most authoritative sources of cognitive dissonance in the academic context. Therefore, it can be used to establish an understanding of the fundamental concepts and provide means for interpretation of the observed actions of leaders in the organizational context. As a result, it will be connected with the sources that suggest alternative explanations of cognitive dissonance and the empirical studies that deal with events which can create it by challenging the established cognitions.

References

Dechawatanapaisal, D., & Siengthai, S. (2006). The impact of cognitive dissonance on learning work behavior. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(1), 42-54.

Festinger, L. (1957) A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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"Cognitive Dissonance: Theory and Practice." IvyPanda, 30 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/cognitive-dissonance-theory-and-practice/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cognitive Dissonance: Theory and Practice." July 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cognitive-dissonance-theory-and-practice/.


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IvyPanda. "Cognitive Dissonance: Theory and Practice." July 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cognitive-dissonance-theory-and-practice/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Cognitive Dissonance: Theory and Practice." July 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cognitive-dissonance-theory-and-practice/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Cognitive Dissonance: Theory and Practice'. 30 July.

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