An Examination of Festingers Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Notable Modifactions

2586 Words Mar 21st, 2010 11 Pages
An Examination of Festingers Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Notable Modifications

Sometimes the greatest test of a theory is its longevity. Over time, some theories will be disproved, some will be modified, and some will become the basis for a whole new group of theories. Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance has stood up to challenge for over forty years, and is considered by many to be the single most important theory of social psychology. Though there have been modifications to the theory after many recreations and simulations of the original 1957 experiment, few have been able to really disqualify Festinger’s findings. It would be safe to say that many people don’t even have a full grasp of the incredible
…show more content…
Incredible? Simple. The subjects who were paid twenty dollars have all the justification in the world for their actions, but the subjects who were only paid one dollar have reacted to the dissonance created by telling the lie for such a small price, and have actually led themselves to believe that the task was enjoyable to improve their self-esteem in regards to the lie.

Festinger concluded that over time dissonance would change attitudes. For example, cigarette smokers know that it is unhealthy to smoke, but they created an attitude to justify why they continue to smoke. If I quit smoking now, I will gain weight. I only smoke when I am drinking. I only smoke after a meal. But the dissonance theory is applicable to much bigger social opinions than smoking, for example: Aronson and Mills (1959) conducted an experiment in which some subjects were put through a harsh period of hazing during initiation into a group while other subjects had to endure only mild hazing. The end result was that the people who went through the sever initiation ended up liking that group a lot better than those who went through mild hazing. Going against the reinforcement theory (Aronson, 1997), the psychologists showed that the subjects came to favor things that they had to suffer to achieve. In other words, to go

Related Documents