Increasing cognitive dissonance by a Fait Accompli

Author: 
Jack W. Brehm
Summary: 
The purpose of this paper, then, is to report an experiment in which a fait accompli (an event outside of the person's control) does appear to have increased cognitive dissonance.
Abstract: 
A recent theory by Festinger attempts to state the conditions under which discrepancies between cognitions produce "cognitive dissonance," a state of tension that motivates the individual to reduce or eliminate the discrepancies. One of the conditions that may be necessary for the creation of cognitive dissonance is that there be some element of volition. The theory states, for example, that a person who is completely forced to behave in a manner he would avoid if possible, experiences no dissonance. On the other hand, a, fait accompli—i.e., an event outside of the person's control—might conceivably create dissonance if that same event would have led to the opposite behavior had it been predictable at a prior choice point. The purpose of this paper, then, is to report an experiment in which a fait accompli does appear to have increased cognitive dissonance.On the other hand, a, fait accompli—i.e., an event outside of the person's control—might conceivably create dissonance if that same event would have led to the opposite behavior had it been predictable at a prior choice point. The purpose of this paper, then, is to report an experiment in which a fait accompli does appear to have increased cognitive dissonance.