On the Motivational Nature of Cognitive Dissonance Dissonance as Psychological Discomfort

Author: 
Andrew J. Elliot and Patricia G. Devine
Publication Date: 
1994
Summary: 
Most empirical research investigating the motivational properties of cognitive dissonance has focused on the arousal component of dissonance rather than on the psychological component explicitly delineated by L. Festinger.
Abstract: 
Most empirical research investigating the motivational properties of cognitive dissonance has focused on the arousal component of dissonance rather than on the psychological component explicitly delineated by L. Festinger (1957) . In 2 induced-compliance experiments, a self-report measure of affect was used to demonstrate that dissonance is experienced as psychological discomfort and that this psychological discomfort is alleviated on implementation of a dissonance-reduction strategy, attitude change. Experiment 1 yielded supporting evidence for both of these propositions. Experiment 2 replicated the 1st experiment and ruled out a self-perception-based alternative explanation for the dissonance-reduction findings in Experiment 1. Results from the 2 experiments strongly support Festinger's conceptualization of cognitive dissonance as a fundamentally motivational state.