Talk:Cognitive dissonance

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Former good article nomineeCognitive dissonance was a Social sciences and society good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
July 27, 2011Good article nomineeNot listed


I agree that Linux/MS products isn't a good example and would not necessarily appear in a text book.

Information for future updates[edit]

I am just about finished reading Festinger's "A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance" (Stanford, 1962 edition) and I don't feel like this page accurately explains the original theory. Some points that should be mentioned in a future update of the article:

1) Cognitions are "dissonant" if the obverse of one follows from other. Thus, neglecting to bring an umbrella is dissonant with the knowledge that it is likely to rain.

2) The magnitude of dissonance is related to the importance of the dissonant elements and the proportion of dissonant elements to cognitive elements.

3) The maximum possible amount of dissonance is equal to the resistance to change of the less resistant element. In other words, dissonance will increase until its magnitude surpasses the resistance of the least resistant dissonant cognition, at which point that cognition will change and dissonance will be reduced below the limit. For example, it is likely that racist beliefs are more resistant to change than one's opinion of a politician's performance, and so a racist who has a high amount of dissonance concerning a very popular Black politician is more likely to decide that the politician is not actually good at his job, rather than deciding that Black people actually make good politicians.

4) Dissonance can be reduced by either eliminating or changing dissonant cognitions, or by adding new consonant cognitions. So, someone who feels dissonance about buying a new car can reduce that dissonance by concluding that other types of cars are in fact inferior, or that the chosen type of car actually has many features that make it superior.

5) It is expected that people who feel dissonance will seek out information that will reduce their dissonance and avoid information that will increase it. In situations of "buyers' remorse," people will do this after the purchase has been made. So, the hypotheical car buyer should avoid information praising the non-chosen types of cars, and seek information that lauds the type that was chosen. When people involuntarily encounter information that would increase dissonance, they will find ways to discount it, such as ignoring it, misinterpreting it, or denying it.

I believe these points outline the core of Festinger's original dissonance theory. While some of this information is currently presented in the article, the information is not complete or cohesive. I recommend that the article have one section concerning the "original" theory of dissonance that includes the material above. Further sections could then explicate current trends in dissonance theory, alternatives to dissonance theory, etc. While I will add some of the above information, I will leave major revision to others who are more knowledgeable about those latter topics (current trends and alternatives) than I. 4 May 2006 (UTC)NB

My brief scan of the article, which goes on for miles, supports your "not complete or cohesive". It seems to be a cliché in search of a meaning. I contest the central thesis implicit in the term: I don't think we can achieve contradictory views on a subject or topic; so that, for example, if we despise a supposed racial group under certain criteria, we display those same criteria ourselves. This would be because it is of the nature of human reason, occurring in a human brain, to achieve consistency. That by which you judge others, you also judge yourself by. If denial, in the sense of upholding contradictions, were infinitely attainable, there would be no end to human evil, and yet human evil is generally self-limiting: racist states fall, "cheaters never win". So then I must account for my own and others' conduct being at odds with itself, which I acknowledge happens. I explain this as the result of failing to undertake what I might call overall editing of one's philosophy, what I might call having separate compartments for, say, humans and creampuffs. It might happen that that compartmentalization occasionally shows itself by my, say, preferring a creampuff over a human when, in the interior of my own philosophy of humans, they are the highest good. One might strain at gnats as a matter of hygiene but swallow a camel when hygiene is "obviously not on", such as on a battlefield. Finding consistence between and among all one's beliefs is a matter of great assiduity: "sitting at". One must let things rest, and then discover how well they fit together. Goading people to ride roughshod over their scruples ("sharp stones") is a way to "get things done" now and then, later on, reap the whirlwind from having sown the wind. Chrisrushlau (talk) 18:06, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

Dissonance in the brain[edit]

I've included a "cognitive dissonance in the brain" section, which might be interesting to some readers. Additions/comments are welcome. --Efb18 5:58, 16 Dec 2009

References section[edit]

I've corrected a few minor errors in the references section, and included links to urls for a number of peer-reviewed articles. I've also applied APA style where necessary. Corrections are welcome. --Efb18 3:43, 10 Jan 2010

Removing One Image in Border[edit]

There's a picture of a statue of some altruistic guy helping kids with the caption "Justifying altruism is just one example of cognitive dissonance. In this case, altruistic actions risk causing one to feel obliged in some way to do more." This is a stretch to the point of irrelevant or absurd. There are equally examples of justifying altruism that have nothing at all to do with cognitive dissonance. Someone could write an entire book justifying altruism and feel no dissonance whatsoever, e.g. if her self concept included the trait of altruism. That image and caption don't belong in this article. Unless a compelling reason to keep them is provided, I will delete them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jj1236 (talkcontribs) 23:33, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

You are discussing exactly what is interesting about the example, and why that particular sort of dissonance is worth summarizing in a picture. The idea is that calling ourselves "altruistic" is dissonant because we think of all the good we will have to do in the world, or in a situation in our life, etc. That is, research is exploring situations where people don't want to think of themselves as altruistic.-Tesseract2(talk) 05:47, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't understand the caption and unfortunately I don't understand Tesseract2's comment above. Like Jj1236, I'm uncomfortable with the implication that altruism itself involves dissonance. I don't know what these situations are "where people don't want to think of themselves as altruistic." The caption doesn't seem to address specific situations. I disagree that people calling themselves "altruistic" is dissonant: dissonant with what? It doesn't clash with a positive self-image. I agree that the image and caption need to go. MartinPoulter (talk) 09:44, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Likewise, I don't think Tesseract provides a valid explanation or reason to keep the picture. I have deleted that image and caption. Yes, altruism is interesting. Yes, cognitive dissonance is interesting. No, there is not an obvious connection. Metaphor is also an interesting phenomena, but it doesn't belong on the cognitive dissonance page. If a link can be explicitly drawn and the connection between altruism and cognitive dissonance supported with a source, then the image could be restored. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jj1236 (talkcontribs) 20:41, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Relationship of cognitive dissonance and bad faith?[edit]

Surprisingly, I have not read anything on the relationship of cognitive dissonance and bad faith or perfidy. Am I just reading the wrong literature? Anyone know of references connecting the expressions? PPdd (talk) 00:13, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Cognitive dissonance/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Looie496 (talk) 23:49, 21 July 2011 (UTC) On an initial reading, it isn't clear to me that this article is within range of GA, but it is good enough to at least make a review worthwhile. There is a problem right at the start, though: I find that the article fails to answer my most basic question, which is, who invented this term, and when, and where, and why? Did others use the term in the same way as the inventor, or has the meaning changed over time? Did the concept immediately draw attention, or did it take time to catch on? How extensive is the literature on this concept? Some of these questions are addressed peripherally in the article, but I feel that these basic issues of definition need to be addressed right at the start, before the Examples section. I would like to see whether we can deal with this problem before continuing with the rest of the review. This applies especially because the GA nomination seems to have been made without any talk page discussion, by an editor who has never edited the article or its talk page. Looie496 (talk) 23:49, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

I am pretty sure that it was Leon Festinger who created the term.ACEOREVIVED (talk) 19:32, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

I am going to fail the GA nomination at this point due to the lack of response from the nominator or other major contributors. Looie496 (talk) 21:11, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Sorry about the late response. My bad. Anyway I realized there wasn't anything about the history of the term, so I'm currently trying to fix that. Also, I didn't realize one had to edit the article or have a talk page discussion before GA nominating. From what I gathered, it seemed like anyone who thought they found a GA-worthy article could nominate it. AddThreeAndFive (talk) (contribs) 04:04, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

One doesn't have to, but my experience has been that editors who have never contributed to an article are rarely in a position to handle problems that are pointed out in a GA review. In any case this review is officially closed -- the article can be renominated at any time, but perhaps it would be better to first open a discussion on the talk page of whether it is ready. Regards, Looie496 (talk) 04:30, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Different modes of dissonance reduction[edit]

A central weakness of this article is that it does not clarify at all clearly the three conditions under which cognitive dissonancemay arise,according to "A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance" by Leon Festinger. These are:

1. Forced compliance - where people are made to act in ways counter to their attitudes, as in the famous Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) study; 2. Post-decisional dissonance reduction; 3. Seeking information congruent with all these views.

There have been empirical studies of all three areas, and the article should clarify this. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 19:36, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

These are discussed in chapter 3 of the article. It would be helpful if you could specify what is unclear about the way they are currently discussed. Thanks Efb18 (talk) 02:54, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Cognitive dissonance, or a related phenomenon?[edit]

I have long thought that cognitive dissonance described this phenomenon:

You're walking down a city street, and you see a person walking away from you. You can't tell whether the person is male or female (perhaps they have a "masculine" walk and long hair). You feel uncomfortable not knowing the person's gender.

From this article, I would NOT call that cognitive dissonance. What would you call it, and, is there a wikipedia article on it? Bloody Viking (talk) 14:21, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

I doubt it. For what it's worth, the Reference desks are better places to ask questions than article talk pages, which are intended to be used for discussions of how to improve articles -- in this case Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science would probably be the right place. Looie496 (talk) 15:06, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

The same as "cognitive conflict theory"?[edit]

My book writes:

One of the most commonly cited theories of conceptual change is cognitive conflict theory. According to this theory, when learners want to understand something and they experience a discrepancy between what they know and what thy expect, a radical form of conceptual change may occur. (talk) 20:18, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

No, not the same thing. Cognitive dissonance theory says that people suppress discrepancies; the theory you cite apparently says that people learn from them. Looie496 (talk) 21:27, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
There are actually two different things going on--discomfort with the realization of conflicting beliefs, and the rejection of the old belief in favor of the new (correct) belief. The former is cognitive dissonance, the latter is one response to cognitive dissonance--a positive response, but not the only possible response. This is why an educator must be involved to not only foster conflict but to guide its proper resolution. Editorpsy (talk) 06:32, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

question from a reader[edit]

I'm just a reader on here and I don't really have any "corrections" or anything that needs to be added or removed but I have read this article in its entirety a few times. Recently, there have been some major changes. For example, the Benjamin Franklin quote was removed in relations to the cognitive theory. I don't know if the original writings of this article have been saved somewhere but if so, could someone guide me in the right direction so I can read it. I much prefer the old edition to this one. or even better if someone has the old one that i remember reading on this page. could you email it to me? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sparkamania (talkcontribs) 22:13, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

If you go to the article and then click on the tab at the top that says "History", you can access older versions of the article by clicking on their dates in the list you get. Every past version of the article can be reached that way. Looie496 (talk) 22:42, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Also a little question[edit]

My question is simple, Why do we have it? i mean it's not that handy in every situation so why do we still have it? should evolution do something about it?

(Mrsuckage (talk) 23:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC))

can you react to this account someone disabeld my old username for some reason...

(Mriceage (talk) 23:52, 12 January 2012 (UTC))

Sorry to hear about your account; I hope it wasn't hacked and then used mischievously or something like that.

We are evolved creatures, so evolution may well have played an important role. Evolution can get complicated though, and it can result in specific animal traits (e.g. human traits) in many different ways. I have not heard of any research into dissonance and its origins; that would be very interesting to add to this page if anyone found any such sources.
As for why evolution might not get rid of dissonance, A trait might stick around if it is beneficial, sure. Maybe dissonance results in good survival thinking, for instance. But evolution is not an engineer. A trait might also stick around because the genes are selected with other beneficial traits. For instance, an animal may have a certain stripe pattern on its body - not because it makes a positive difference in their survival - but simply because the genes that caused that pattern share a home with the genes that control bigger muscles (an example of a potentially adaptive trait). In other words, a trait may have gotten lucky.
There are other possibilities, as far as I understand. A trait will also stick around if it is good for the group - in which case you can't focus on the individual. For example, altruistic behavior will straight up get you killed sometimes, and yet that trait is very real in many animal populations.
Sometimes a trait was beneficial in the past, but is no longer beneficial. It might even be bad now. For instance, with global warming, polar bears - who are built to hunt from atop thick ice - now starve or drown increasingly often. This has to do with the fact that evolution has to improve on old designs - it cannot easily redesign (e.g. Fitness landscapes).
A bunch of traits together can create "bugs" in our system too. There have been studies that a bird might look for certain qualities in an egg. If their egg is big, and blue, with nice polka dots - they will care about it the most (because it may symbolize the healthiest baby). And yet, if you put in a fake egg that is super-big, super-blue, super-polka dotted, the bird will pay way less attention to its real eggs. That is, supernormal stimuli is a sort of evolutionary "bug"; something in the world that just happens to take advantage of our traits.

To answer your question, why do we operate according to cognitive dissonance, now that we have so much evidence suggesting that we do? Was it beneficial? If so, for the individual, or for the group? Maybe the trait got lucky a bit too? Maybe it was beneficial in the past? Maybe it is more of an evolutionary bug?
It may be a combination of these things, and others. Maybe some day scientists will feel confident about a more detailed narrative; a certain story about "how dissonance came to be." But hopefully you see why it would require careful investigation; a good answer would not come easy. At very least, I think this post is a call for any sources describing possible origins of dissonance.
-Tesseract2(talk) 20:47, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

To me the blue polka dot egg example is anthropocentric and misleading Tesseract2. It seems unreasonable to describe it as an evolutionary bug. It only shows that it is possible to deceive. LookingGlass (talk) 06:50, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
Thinking about it from an evolutionary standpoint, it may have served a role psychologically by allowing humans to "move forward" to other issues. Take The Fox and the Grapes, the fox wants something, realizes he can't have it, and moves on. For hunter-gatherers, getting distracted and wasting time trying to achieve the unattainable would hardly be beneficial. Cognitive dissonance could have developed to allow humans to shift their focus to more attainable goals.(SWAG) -AmericanFad (talk) 10:56, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Bad Image[edit]

Diagram of the theory of cognitive dissonance. Rationalization (making excuses) is often involved in reducing anxiety about conflicting cognitions.

I think I know what CD is, but I still don't understand the image. Worse, "Dissonance Reduction" is used, but not explained in the article. -- (talk) 09:14, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Good call. I think "The Fox and the Grapes" image would make a much better top illustration for the article. I've boldly make the change and copied it here for discussion. Diego (talk) 13:36, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the Fox and Grapes is a better illustration, but only because the previous image was indecipherable (to me at least)! The fox is not suffering from cognitive dissonance but from a conflict between his desire for the grapes (Affect) and his realisation that he can't get them (Cognition), which he resolves simply by controlling his desires. LookingGlass (talk) 06:37, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

Bad fatih[edit]

Does anyone have some good sources on distinguishing between Cognative dissonance and Bad faith? PPdd (talk) 20:12, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Isn't Bad Faith a broad and general phrase that is used both to cover some aspects of the elementary concept of Cognitive Dissonance as well as also covering matters such as simple deceit eg signing a contract in bad faith, meaning something akin to lying under oath. LookingGlass (talk) 06:27, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

Examples of "Cognitive Dissonance"[edit]

Your smoking example is misplaced. It fails to recognize the addictive aspect of tobacco products and the effect on conscious cognitive abilities and decisions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:29, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Examples of "Cognitive Dissonance"[edit]

Your smoking example is misplaced. It fails to recognize the addictive aspect of tobacco products and the effect on conscious cognitive abilities and decisions. (talk) 01:30, 18 May 2012 (UTC)Dr. J.

Wouldn't the character of Javert be a perfect example? When he can't reconcile the law (capturing Jean Valjean) with his morality (letting Valjean go), the cognitive dissonance leads him to commit suicide, thus removing himself from the equation. - Magmagirl (talk) 15:32, 7 November 2013 (UTC)


In recent years, "cognitive dissonance" is mis-used and misunderstood most of the time You particularly notice it in news broadcasts.

According to the usual mis-use, cognitive dissonance is the subjective feeling of discomfort you experience when you simultaneously entertain two or more incompatible ideas. The usage implies an analogy to the subjective discomfort you might experience if you heard a dissonant musical chord. This is just plain wrong.

The opening sentence of this article describes CD as "a discomfort." I don't think Festinger or anyone who came after him ever intended CD to refer to subjective discomfort. The discrepant ideas are dissonant. In this sense, "dissonant" is a synonym for "discrepant."

I think this common mis-usage should be clarified. I also think it's a mistake for this article to describe the phenomenon as "a discomfort" particularly in the opening sentence. (talk) 01:02, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

100% agree and came to the Talk page to see if this had been noted or discussed. It seems to me reasonable to assume that the term, "Cognitive Dissonance", was chosen consciously and that therefore the subject is in fact "dissonance" (the opposite of "consonance") not "discomfort". As this point has not been refuted, I have made two minor (?) edits to reflect this:
1. edited the phrase: "to describe the discomfort felt by a person seeking to hold two or more conflicting cognitions" to read: "to describe the state of holding two or more conflicting cognitions"
2. inserted a modifier here: "In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.", as it also seems clear that discomfort may or may not arise from the dissonance depending upon the degree of awareness of the dissonance and on any resolution process.
This issue seems to me also significant as the term is getting more and more usage referring to a fleeing from uncomfortable "truths", something I feel is entirely distinct to and of trivial value compared to the original elementary concept at hand.
LookingGlass (talk) 06:23, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

Well now I'm completely confused (which could simply mean that I'm easily confused, or more charitably that this is a confusing topic). There are obviously two quite different definitions of cognitive dissonance in widespread usage, one focused on cognition and the other focused on emotion and/or behavior:
1. The holding of contradictory ideas as simultaneously true. Dissonant cognition.
2. The uncomfortable feeling that arises from attempting to hold contradictory ideas as simultaneously true. A feeling of dissonance created by contradictory beliefs. Emotional dissonance caused by dissonant cognition.
This Wikipedia entry appears to have gone with the first definition. goes with the second--"anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like".
Curiously, so does"(psychology) a conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistencies between one's beliefs and one's actions or other beliefs".
It's a little hard to tell where falls, depending on the definition of "psychological conflict"--"psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously". I think this is closer to the second definition, though. seems closer to the second definition as well--"the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information". Again, depending on what they mean by "mental conflict".
I was quite certain that the second definition was correct before I visited this talk page, but now it's not clear to me that either definition is necessarily wrong, depending on whether one is thinking of the dissonant ideations or the dissonant feelings involved. In short, the difference in the two definitions is the difference between "disagreement" and "disagreeable". But I thought the explanatory power of Festinger's theory rests in the idea that the dissonant feelings drive behavior, but only once noticed, either consciously or subconsciously. I don't think Festinger's theory explains anything absent the feeling of dissonance. I've always considered the unnoticed holding of conflicting beliefs to be compartmentalization. A curious ability (disability?) in human cognition, but not particularly explanatory of behavior. Explanatory of lack of behavior, perhaps. The Britannica entry mentions that persuading oneself that no conflict actually exists is one possible resolution of the "mental conflict", which suggests that the discomfort is the key point of cognitive dissonance theory. The mental indigestion is the point. Compartmentalization is a reaction.
All of this aside, how did Festinger define it? Does anybody have access to his book? I should think it would be easy to resolve this question by reference to the original work. If Festinger himself is muddy on the definition, then that would be unfortunate. I don't want to pay $30 to buy the book just to get a precise definition (which the book may not contain). It's a classic work. Some Wikipedia contributor must have it on the shelf.
Whatever the correct definition, confusion will continue on the subject because we appear to lack two distinct terms (or at least we lack two terms in common usage), one for the conflicting ideation (what I've heretofore understood as compartmentalization), and one for the unease caused by noticing the conflict (what I've heretofore understood as cognitive dissonance). Still, it would be nice if this entry went to the original source for the definition of at least this one term. As it is, if Wikipedia disagrees with and even, as well as other trusted references, we should attempt to be quite sure that Wikipedia has it right. And as long as multiple reference works disagree on the definition, what chance does public usage have of getting it right? Thinking about thinking is slippery enough.
Jayrayspicer (talk) 00:29, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
Festinger's book is previewable at Google Books, see On page 3 he says, "In short, I am proposing that dissonance, that is, the existence of nonfitting relations among cognitions, is a motivating factor in its own right." So it looks like he is going with definition 1. But his claim is that cognitive dissonance automatically and inevitably produces discomfort, so definition 2 is not exactly a huge error. Looie496 (talk) 17:14, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

It is nice to see a meeting of the minds between Jayrayspicer and Looie496 as to the issues involved. I have commented up above today, under "future updates", on this point, even using the term "compartmentalization" prominently, but to also make the point that we cannot hold contradictory ideas. We harbor them, by compartmentalization, which is a pejorative for sloppy thinking. We cannot tell ourselves that black is white, to use the famous Jesuit example. Nobody is that loyal. What we can do is have a general theory and practice of living, the interplay of what we do and what we tell ourselves about what we do, that is not harmonious, not finished. We harbor, then, contradictory practices, because our meditation, examination of conscience, has not reached the point of harmonizing all our practices.Chrisrushlau (talk) 18:31, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

Discomfort again[edit]

In the course of the discussion above the defining entry sentence was changed to refer to the state of having dissonant cognition, which can induce discomfort. This is covered by reference, is consistent with the term 'dissonance', is consistent within it's theory and description, and indeed used that way in literature (to the extent I know). Further support may be accepted from the terminologic silliness of using the term for a feeling induced by the state (a thing - which has a term - under constrain of possibly deriving from something) instead for the state (the something which needs description and term).
In 2012, 9 November and 18 November, User: Special:Contributions/ twice changed it back to referring to a feeling, the second time with following reasoning:

"Feeling of uneasiness" is not "too definite", it is quite general and vague. In fact, "state" makes it sound like the mere holding of two opposing opinions, a cause of the recent wave of conflation between "hypocrisy" and "cognitive dissonance"

The argument ("makes it sound like ...") is flawed:

  • Cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy are completely different things
  • Even if there was a wave of conflation, that would not be a reason for Wikipedia to change the definition of something.

So I will change it again to refer to the state. Tomdo08 (talk) 23:06, 23 January 2018 (UTC)

Social Engineering[edit]

Does anyone have references to fill out the social engineering section? It's labeled as underdeveloped, but I haven't had much luck in finding more references to add in. Much appreciated if you do. Thanks. Yobi831 (talk) 16:43, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Induced-compliance paradigm section[edit]

I have returned the recently deleted study to this section. This 2012 study has been published in a peer reviewed journal. It is correctly presented in the article as just a single study, not a confirmed fact and it is not controversial in nature. It has been argued that this study is not appropriate for the article because the results have not been duplicated and found to be consistently accurate or subjected to a review. However, according to guidelines:

Reliable primary sources may occasionally be used with care as an adjunct to the secondary literature, but there remains potential for misuse. For that reason, edits that rely on primary sources should only describe the conclusions of the source, and should describe these findings clearly so the edit can be checked by editors with no specialist knowledge. In particular, this description should follow closely to the interpretation of the data given by the authors or by other reliable secondary sources. Primary sources should not be cited in support of a conclusion that is not clearly made by the authors or by reliable secondary sources, as defined above (see: Wikipedia:No original research). When citing primary sources, particular care must be taken to adhere to Wikipedia's undue weight policy. Secondary sources should be used to determine due weight.

I understand that some people believe that this sort of material is not what they want from our encyclopedia. I'm just the opposite, this is exactly what I enjoy about Wikipedia. Furthermore, I have placed perhaps hundreds of similar studies in the articles that I work on and if they would all be removed from some articles, there would be nothing left other than government propaganda. Gandydancer (talk) 02:20, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Inflation of prices in Induced-compliance paradigm experiment explanation[edit]

The article had different hard-coded inflation adjusted prices. I note the Template:Inflation documentation says that "This template is only capable of inflating Consumer Price Index values", which means that perhaps its use here is incorrect. However, it's certainly better to use it than unsourced calculations made by a page editor *and* to have those be for different years, which is what my edit replaced. Nevertheless, I welcome someone to make a better solution for this. I do think it's useful to explain how valuable those prices are in modern terms to help readers understand how valuable $20 was at the time. -- bkuhn 02:48, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Comments on religion[edit]

I moved the following comment here from the "Examples" section of the article:

More controversially, some people would see traditional religious belief, in all its many forms, as a near-universal example of cognitive dissonance in action. Thus, in Christianity, the esoteric philosophical field known as 'Theology' seeks, by dint of complex sophistry, to rationalise what essentially defies rational explanation. As has been famously observed, it is a vehicle which allows agnostics and atheists to remain in the Church. It does so by providing a subtle escape from the many dissonances inherent in religious belief. Likewise, 'faith', the mainstay of religious loyalties, provides the means by which believers are able to overcome the various anomalies and contradictions of reason which beset all religions. When believers are confronted with an irrefutable challenge to their beliefs, they will commonly respond with 'It's a matter of faith'. Survivors of a major natural calamity will joyfully 'thank the Lord' for their personal deliverance while ignoring the role of the Almighty in allowing the catastrophic event to happen in the first place. Despite the obvious contradiction, their faith is commonly strengthened by the experience. Their religious faith thus effectively neutralises the potentially damaging impact of cognitive dissonance on their beliefs.

I think that the content here has potential applicability, but that it needs to be worded differently in order to preserve neutrality if it is to be included in the article. Right now, it shows a pretty clear bias. Thoughts?

Rob Hurt (talk) 03:14, 19 March 2013 (UTC)


I don't think the first sentence in a wikipedia entry should have a word like cognition in it. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I am obsessed with psychology, I'm assuming the people writing this are as well. Most people aren't. We're writing for them, not us. These are the same problems found in most articles on programming. The average person who looks up one of these articles wants to find a basic explanation, especially in the introduction. The second sentence, about when the phrase was coined, is interesting, and a fun historical fact but is not essential information and doesn't help explain the concept to people who aren't already versed in psychology. Most people aren't well versed in the history of obscure cults, or the psychological analysis of them.

In my opinion this should go almost immediately into a short rendition of The Fox and the Grapes, as that is the most effective and simplistic explanation of the concept. Here's a very rough idea of how the introduction should read: In psychology, Cognitive dissonance is a theory about what occurs when what someone wants or expects to happen is not matched by reality. Many psychologists believe that this creates an urge to explain away this conflict by unconsciously changing one's expectations or goals. (fox and the grapes here) Skiingdemon (talk) 01:57, 2 August 2013 (UTC)


Compartmentalization (psychology) leads with "Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance..." while its not referenced in this article at all. It would seem to be related to the third paragraph here "According to Festinger, people engage in a process he termed 'dissonance reduction,' which can be achieved in one of three ways: (1) lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, (2) adding consonant elements, or (3) changing one of the dissonant factors." BUT if Festinger doesn't say Compartmentalization specifically (and this term doesn't clearly fit under the 3?!), then perhaps the other article should be adjusted? I'm not sure. Tom Ruen (talk) 06:11, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

The question is whether both articles are written in a way that reflects the mainstream of reputable sources. It is possible that both are and that the sources simply disagree with each other -- in that case there is no really ideal solution. Looie496 (talk) 15:05, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

misattributed quote[edit]

The quote under the photo of Festinger in the right bar ("Humans are not a rational animal, but a rationalizing one") was written by Robert Heinlein in his story "Gulf" (1949, reprinted in "Assignments in Eternity", 1953). Maybe Heinlein stole it from Festinger (or vice versa) but without positive evidence that Festinger said this perhaps it shouldn't be attributed to him? Idiottom (talk) 20:45, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

In the absence of any source for it, sure, I've cut it. I've also taken out "Attitude ⟹ Belief Inconsistent with Attitude ⟹ Dissonance" which was just floating, center-tagged underneath Festinger's two hypotheses - I assume this wasn't part of them. --McGeddon (talk) 11:03, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, McGeddon! After much googling, I have found the following page that attributes the quote to Elliot Aronson: [1]. Here's the quote:

"Ellot Aronson has said: ‘Dissonance theory does not rest upon the assumption that man is a rational animal; rather, it suggests that man is a rationalizing animal – that he attempts to appear rational, both to others and to himself.’ (Theories of Cognitive Consistency.) This need can considerably colour his attitudes." Paulmlieberman (talk) 14:25, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Embarrassment for psychopaths[edit]

Isn't cognitive dissonance what happens to psychopaths or people near to being psychopaths while people who feel emotion feel embarrassment.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I've never seen a description of cognitive dissonance that says it is particular to psychopaths. MartinPoulter (talk) 12:31, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

People who are psychopaths cannot feel embarrassment so instead they have cognitive dissonance. A majority of people in the world are psychopaths or are close to being psychopaths. Can you point out any psychological study that separated the people who can feel from the psychopaths. Psychologists just let the psychopaths greatly perturb their studies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:29, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Fox and the Grapes[edit]

As far as I can tell from the rest of the article, this is not an example of cognitive dissonance. The disappointment the fox feels at not getting the grapes is not due to a "belief, idea or value". His only "idea" is that he wants the grapes, but he just simply can't reach them - for lack of a better term wouldn't that be something like "situational dissonance". He solves his disappointment with a cognitive process but I don't see how that makes the original situation cognitive dissonance.

In fact I would argue that the fox may in fact CREATE something much closer to cognitive dissonance by his solution to not being able to reach them. Afterwards, he may still want to try the grapes (because they might be good - he may believe he's just kidding himself), but also not want them (because he has decided they are sour).

I can't read the reference to see if it actually refers to cognitive dissonance or just the story itself. Richjhart (talk) 11:24, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

  • I second the removal and I am removing it.--Mark v1.0 (talk) 12:08, 11 August 2018 (UTC)

Added at the beginning.[edit]

In the land of the blind, most blind attempt to cure a seeing, by and through using blindfolds on themselves (Grave of an unknown soldier). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

How to cure cognitive dissonance.[edit]

Their minds eye must focus NOT onto the discontinuity, NOR on the nose, but onto what would be, if the left eye looketh left, and the right eye looketh right. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:14, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

Cognitive Dissonance.[edit]

In one easy to summarize statement:

Cognitive dissonance results when the internal and the external can not be reconcilled and a disjuntion (discontinuity) forms. By and off itself, this would not result in much ado, except a disregard of the one path or the other path. There is one exception to this, and this exception is in dependency relationship to an individual whom demised (emocionally or physically). At this stage the internal reference sieve attempts to find other references to continue on that same path, and leaves the internal stability condition. This is a state where schizoformia´s are formed, where the internal phase locked loop can begin to follow extraneous signals below the noise level, due either smaller and smaller differenciations, or larger and larger integrations.

In classical jargoon, this is a ´make or break´ cycle. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:40, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

Removed second statement added yesterday.[edit]

Second koan/statement is a bit disjoint, doesn´t fit smoothly, and is therefore incongruous. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:30, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Dr. Khalil's comment on this article[edit]

Dr. Khalil has reviewed this Wikipedia page, and provided us with the following comments to improve its quality:

At the end of "Reducing" section, I suggest adding the following paragraph:

Probably the fourth method of reduction is the only one related to "self-deception." With the fourth method, the person suddenly changes the belief about the item for no reason other than to make an "excuse" for an already taken action. One popular explanation of self-deception is the theory of von Hippel and Trivers [2011]. Namely, the person tries to deceive the self in order to present the self as believable as possible to others. And the person wants to look believable in order to cheat others. While this theory is plausible in some occasions, it cannot explain cases when others are not involved. Actually, Elias Khalil [2016] argues that the typical cases of self-deception do not involve others, as illustrated in the fable of the fox and the sour grapes. The person in theses cases is mostly interested in maintaining "self-image," i.e., making choices that are either optimal in the rational sense or ethically proper.

Khalil, Elias L. “Self-Deception as a Weightless Mask.” Facta Universitatis, Series: Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, and History, 2016,

von Hippel, W. and R. Trivers. “The evolution and psychology of self-deception.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2011, 34, 1-16.

We hope Wikipedians on this talk page can take advantage of these comments and improve the quality of the article accordingly.

We believe Dr. Khalil has expertise on the topic of this article, since he has published relevant scholarly research:

  • Reference : Khalil, Elias, 2008. "The Bayesian Fallacy: Distinguishing Four Kinds of Beliefs," MPRA Paper 8474, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 26 Apr 2008.

ExpertIdeasBot (talk) 16:42, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

New thread[edit]

I find the whole subject pointless. This is not an idea that anyone came up with. Its not like people discovered Cognitive dissonance. Its just being stubborn or being predisposed towards a belief... so what?? In fact i think the whole subjects popularity is based on its catchy name... in fact i have been around since the 60s and never heard it discussed except for in the terms i mentioned and other similar terms until it was mentioned in a William Gibson Novel... ever since he mentioned it i cant throw a rock and not hit it here on the net lol. So im wondering why this wiki entry takes the whole subject so seriously when from what ive seen its nothing more than pop culture/sci fi flavor of the week and should be discussed more in terms of its use in pop culture and sci fi for entertainment value. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Majorheadrush (talkcontribs) 07:54, 25 December 2016 (UTC)

@Majorheadrush: There are many scholarly books and papers about the topic, going back decades. It's in many textbooks. If a given person has not read those books but instead has read pop-culture or sci-fi sources, that does not change anything. If you think cognitive dissonance is "just being stubborn or being predisposed towards a belief" then I recommend reading the full article and looking at its sources. MartinPoulter (talk) 12:27, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Accusation of vandalism by User:Chas. Caltrop by me on this article[edit]

I twice tried to change the title of section 2 from "Reduction of cognitive dissonance" to "Reduction" which is in accordance with MOS:HEAD. However User:Chas. Caltrop twice reverted, the first time calling it "dumbed-down" and the second time "vandalism" inspite of the fact that the second time I changed it I actively asked for any logical rationale for the contrary view.--Penbat (talk) 20:15, 10 May 2017 (UTC)

Reply to Penbat:

Greetings, I shall limit my discussion to the subject matter. I twice corrected your incorrect correction because real-life search-engine searches (using Google) for defining the term Reduction lead to the Reduction (chemistry) article in Wikipedia, while the thematically accurate term of psychology Reduction of cognitive dissonance leads to the Cognitive dissonance article in Wikipedia; hence the dumbing-down characterisation of that ambiguous and inaccurate change is factual, in this matter, Reduction and Reduction of cognitive dissonance are not equivalent terms.

Moreover, given your biographic claim of real-world knowledge of this subject, your bad faith manipulation of the rules of Wikipedia is an illogical rationale for installing an ambiguous non-psychology term (Reduction) in place of the accurate psychology term (Reduction of cognitive dissonance).

You may confirm the veracity of this reply by replicating the searches in Google.


Chas. Caltrop (talk) 22:40, 10 May 2017 (UTC)

Elaboration of Leon Festinger[edit]

The article is introduced with Leon Festinger in the second paragraph, but does not seem to lead to his significance. Should the second paragraph be reworded to put less importance on him, or should more information regarding Leon Festinger be added? Somerandomuser (talk) 13:56, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

Opening of article[edit]

The opening of this article says that cognitive dissonance occurs when behaviour contradicts one's belief - but could it not also say that apparently contradictory beliefs may cause cognitive dissonance? Vorbee (talk) 08:06, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

Sounds fine to me providing you can provide a decent supporting cite.--Penbat (talk) 08:19, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

Eliot Aronson's self-concept theory[edit]

I see this article mentions Eliot Aronson. Should it not also Aronson's self-concept theory, that says that dissonance is not actually between two apparently contradictory beliefs, but is a state that arises when one believes that one's behaviour is inconsistent with one's self-concept?Vorbee (talk) 08:14, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

Sounds fine to me providing you can provide a decent supporting cite.--Penbat (talk) 08:18, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

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Ben Franklin effect[edit]

This edit got the Ben Franklin effect completely wrong. It is not about public perception of magnanimity, but is about an individual’s attitude about a rival after being asked to do that rival a favor. I have corrected the error. Just plain Bill (talk) 16:42, 16 December 2017 (UTC)