Essay about Cognitive Dissonance and Advertising

1956 Words 8 Pages
Cognitive Dissonance and Advertising

Advertising deals with people’s feelings and emotions. It includes understanding of the psychology of the buyer, his motives, attitudes, as well as the influences on him such as his family and reference groups, social class and culture. In order to increase the advertisements persuasiveness, advertisers use many types of extensions of behavioural sciences to marketing and buying behaviour. One such extension is the theory of cognitive dissonance. The purpose of advertising can be to create a cognitive dissonance to generate a favourable response from the buyer toward a product or a concept.

First of all, I will talk about the purpose of advertising and its mechanism and I will look at
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Leon Festinger elaborated the theory of cognitive dissonance in 1957. His ideas were tested intensively in the 1960s and 1970s and this led to modifications in both the form of the theory and in its perception. The theory states that in a point in time, there exist several bits of relevant cognitions which may not be consistent with one another. Dissonance produces a psychological discomfort. This condition led people to change their thoughts, feelings or actions in order to reach a state of ‘consonance’ or harmony. Dissonance could arise from logical inconsistency, from cultural mores, because of past experiences and because of one specific opinion, sometimes included by definition, in a more general opinion. Another facet of the theory is that a person, after a purchase decision, seems to be under pressure by the fact of his or her choice and looks for more information concerning the reserved option.

Two factors mainly affect the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance attached to each belief. According to the theory, there are three ways to eliminate the dissonance. The first one consists in reducing the importance of the dissonant beliefs, the second one in adding more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs and the last one in changing beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent. The last option seems to be the most interesting for advertisers, because it gives them the opportunity to make a

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