3 1 discussion cognitive dissonance

What is cognitive dissonance? What role does it play in regards to attitude and/or behavior change? What is the role of external rewards in regards to attitude change?

How might a new car salesperson use what he/she knows about cognitive dissonance (sometimes called buyer’s remorse) to make a customer more content with their purchase (and less likely to want to return their vehicle)?

Use research from the Shapiro Library to support your claims.

To complete this assignment, review the Graduate Discussion Rubric document.



Leon Festinger was first to introduce us to the cognitive dissonance theory. Aronson (1997) describes it as if a person hold two cognitions that psychologically inconsistent, he experiences dissonance. I understood it as a feeling I would have after doing something that would leave me with two types of feelings. Buyers remorse was used a an example to clarify the theory. There has come time when we all have indulged in an impulse only to feel regret afterwards and the convince ourselves that we deserve it.

The role cognitive dissonance would play in behavior is the direction of our attitude based on what makes sense according to what we believe in and the environment. The experience of dissonance is usually unpleasant, so to reduce it I would try to change one of not both cognitions so that my behavior is consistent. Aronson (1997) used desegregation as an example of how dissonance plays a role in by behavior by explaining that to get people to change their behavior, you must get them to change their attitude.

The role of external rewards will definitely change a person’s attitude. Festinger (1961) explained that the absence of reward or the existence of inadequate reward produces certain consequences which account for variety of things we question when we use our definition of reward. This implies that my attitude will be based on my definition of reward. If I believe that my work should match my reward and it isn’t; the my attitude will change and dissonance will arrive.

Anyone in sales has had the dilemma before. The car salesmen will convince themselves that they are doing the customer a great service by making them feel great with buying a car they said they couldn’t afford. The salesmen will dismiss the guilt over his need to make money and provide for himself. He/she will even add extra preferences like car washes for a week, discounts on routine maintenances, merchandise from the dealership (keychains, towels, or sun visors) to ensure the customer they are not just buying a car, but are part of a family. this will help reduce the dissonance the customer may have had before leaving.

Aronson, E. (1997). Back to the future: Retrospective review of Leon Festinger’s–A theory of cognitive dissonance. The American Journal of Psychology, 110(1), 127-137. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F224840246%3Faccountid%3D3783

Festinger, L. (1961). The psychological effects of insufficient rewards. American Psychologist, 16(1), 1–11. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1037/h0045112


Cognitive dissonance is caused by a person’s contradictory beliefs. The discomforts comes into play when a person’s beliefs comes into contact with new information or evidence. It is essentially a theory about sense-making: how people try to make sense out of their beliefs, their environment, and their behavior-and thus try to lead lives that are (at least in their own minds) reasonable, sensible, and meaningful (Aronson, 1997). For example, if a person who knows that cigarettes are harmful continues to smoke cigarettes anyway. Cognitive dissonance plays a role in our behavior changes. When faced with difficult decisions if possible to analyze which behavior would be the most appropriate for different scenarios. When it comes to external rewards, we’re more likely to justify our actions and attitudes to make ourselves feel better about the decisions that we have made even if those decisions were wrong. I know from experience when I purchased my new car, I experienced buyer’s remorse. I felt bad for spending the money and I imagined all of the things I would have purchased if I didn’t buy the car. I’m sure that a car salesperson deals with individuals who experience buyer;s remorese quite often. A good car salesperson would take that time to explain the ins and outs of your purchase with you to make sure that you are comfortable with it before driving out of the lot. A salesperson should be willing to negotiate prices with you along informing you about deals and rebate programs. Checking in with customers about their new purchases days and/ or weeks later could also reassure the customer that they made the right choice.

Aronson, E. (1997). Back to the future: Retrospective review of leon festinger’s–A theory of cognitive dissonance. The American Journal of Psychology, 110(1), 127-137. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F224840246%3Faccountid%3D3783

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