First Impression: Social Psychology

Leon Festinger developed theories on Cognitive dissonance. This is when there are conflicting attitudes or beliefs, which causes discomfort, there is alteration of an attitude or belief to reduce the discomfort. Festinger discovered this theory from doing a research that involves students doing a boring task. Then students were then asked to tell the next person that the tasks/study was not boring at all. For lying, the students were given either one dollar or twenty dollars. The student who was paid twenty dollars to lie didn’t make the study seem as fun as the person who was only paid a dollar. Why is that you ask? The person who was paid twenty dollars knows the task was dull but also knows that he had sufficient justification for lying, hence there is no cognitive dissonance. The person who was paid a dollar, on the other hand, knows that he did not have sufficient justification to lie. This makes the person who was only paid a dollar uncomfortable. To reduce discomfort, the person alters his or her opinion of the task so that they are not lying to anyone. Festinger believes anytime there is an insufficient reward, there will be dissonance.

I don’t think cognitive dissonance is a bad thing that we should avoid, but I think everyone should know about. In elementary school, my parents used to reward me for every five points I made in a basketball, I would receive money for it. It actually put more pressure on me to make more points and it didn’t work in my favor. I would become really nervous and it would affect my shot selection and my performance. When they didn’t give me a reward for how many points I made, I enjoyed playing more, I had fun and I wasn’t stressing. I think it is good to know about cognitive dissonance just to see if you can try and catch yourself altering your opinion of something when you are put in an uncomfortable situation.




2 thoughts on “First Impression: Social Psychology

  1. Wow, I couldn’t think of many instances where cognitive dissonance would happen. However, your explanation kind of really helped me, so thank you! The example they gave wasn’t really applicable in my mind, I don’t really know how I would’ve acted in all honesty. I came up with one example of when I kind of did this, but it wasn’t that good really. Your example however was really good and gave me more insight to how our behavior can change depending on the audience and our self-efficacy, but also the pressure put on us by other people and their expectations. This really applies to what we just learned in class with our performance with different types of pressure. I agree that it’s definitely good to be aware of this phenomena because it can help us be true and to adhere more to our ourselves. Greta post!


  2. I could definitely relate to your example about your parents rewarding you for the amount of points you scored in a game; my parents did the same thing with me when I was younger. It also had the same effects on me. I was a lot more stressed when I was playing even though I knew I should not be focusing on that. I knew that I should just be having fun playing, but instead I was focusing on all the things I could do with an extra five bucks. That is not what the game is about. It really gave me contradicting thoughts about the game so yes, this is a good example of cognitive dissonance. While our parents thought it would just offer some extra motivation, it actually produced negative results. The pressure put on not only by the surrounding audience did not really come in to play in this example, the pressure to act in a certain way was pressure that we put on ourselves.


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