Leon Festinger’s Theory of Cognitive Dissonance
An analysis of Leon Festinger’s psychological theory on the boundaries of attitude and action.
This essay provides an overview of psychologist Leon Festinger’s work on the flexibility of the boundaries of attitude and action and how these limits are affected by changing outside stimuli and influence. The paper describes one of Festinger’s experiments and explains his notion of cognitive dissonance, the condition that results when the balance between attitude and action is contradicted. The paper also shows Festinger’s contribution to methods of psychological study, and how his theories have subsequently been expanded.
A task that an individual perceives to be distasteful is often seen as a result of an outside influence or stimuli that results in the formation of this individual’s perception, or attitude, toward this task. This attitude reflects an individual’s belief, which in turn reflects the set of personal values that form the framework of that individual’s self-awareness and esteem. Since personal behavior is directly driven by personal attitude or belief, one could arrive at the conclusion that the individual behavior is a result of a balance between personal attitude and action. What would occur within this fragile framework of self-balance, however, should one’s individual belief or attitude come into direct conflict with one’s individual actions?