Technique for cognitive dissonance measurement in surveys

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS; Assoc. Prof., Department of Sociology, RUDN University
Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS
RUDN University
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Occupation: trainee at ANO "Center for Expert Market Research"
Affiliation: ANO "Center for Expert Market Research"
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 1

The article reveals the theoretical and methodological aspects of cognitive dissonance as a social behavior factor. It is concluded that the modern sociological methodology does not provide researchers with any generally accepted techniques for measuring cognitive dissonance in surveys. It is proved that sociologically relevant manifestations of cognitive dissonance should be carried out according to the model of the contradiction of people's knowledge about their behavior and the situation in which they found themselves with their self-esteem. Self-justification acts as a model for overcoming cognitive dissonance. There are three criteria for the use of approaches to measuring cognitive dissonance: 1) the measurement method should measure exactly the latent variable that can be interpreted as cognitive dissonance; 2) the method should also be simple and economical to implement; 3) the method should have a fairly broad applicability to the research topic. It is proposed to use the technique of measuring cognitive dissonance in mass surveys, which is a "scale of difference" – a set of identical statements applied to the respondents themselves and external instances (for example, other people). The differences in ratings in these identical statements, according to the self-justification hypothesis, should reflect the magnitude of cognitive dissonance. The hypothesis was confirmed in an experiment that induced cognitive dissonance according to the Festinger–Carlsmith model of "forced consent", and in a survey that demonstrated a correlation between the magnitude of the difference and the intensity of smoking. The technique has passed primary validation, it shows the presence of cognitive dissonance where it should be observed, and to some extent reflects its magnitude. However, the relatively low significance of the differences in the first study and the weakness of correlation in the second one necessitate further research, including in the direction of development and refinement of the technique.

Keywordscognitive dissonance, measurement, survey methodology, public opinion polls
Publication date27.01.2022
Number of characters27436
100 rub.
When subscribing to an article or issue, the user can download PDF, evaluate the publication or contact the author. Need to register.

Number of purchasers: 0, views: 715

Readers community rating: votes 0

1. Aronson Eh. Teoriya kognitivnogo dissonansa: progress i problemy // Sovremennaya zarubezhnaya sotsial'naya psikhologiya. Teksty / Pod red. G.M. Andreevoj, N.N. Bogomolovoj, L.A. Petrovskoj. M.: Izd-vo Mosk. u-ta, 1984. S. 111–127. [Aronson E. (1984) The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance: Progress and Problems. In: Andreeva G.M., Bogomolova N.N., Petrovskaya L.A. (eds) Modern Foreign Social Psychology: Texts. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Moskovskogo universiteta: 111–127. (In Russ.)]

2. Batygin G.S. Obosnovanie nauchnogo vyvoda v prikladnoj sotsiologii. M.: Nauka, 1986. [Batygin G.S. (1986) Substantiation of the Scientific Conclusion in Applied Sociology. Moscow: Nauka. (In Russ.)]

3. Festinger L. Teoriya kognitivnogo dissonansa. SPb.: Yuventa, 1999. [Festinger L. (1999) Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. St. Petersburg: Yuventa. (In Russ.)]

4. Khausknekht D., Svini D.S., Sutar D.N., Dzhonson L.U. Kak izmerit' kognitivnyj dissonans, ili Chto proiskhodit posle prinyatiya resheniya o pokupke // Reklama: teoriya i praktika. 2006. № 2. S. 118–129. [Haussknecht D., Svinyi D.S., Star D.N., Johnson L.U. (2006) How to Measure Cognitive Dissonance, or What Happens after Making a Purchase Decision. Reklama: teorya i praktica [Advertising: Theory and Practice]. No. 2: 118–129. (In Russ.)]

5. Shtejnberg I.E. «Spiral' molchaniya» ili kognitivnyj dissonans: formirovanie ehlektoral'nykh ustanovok sel'skikh zhitelej // Sotsiologicheskij zhurnal. 1997. № 4. C. 64–70. [Steinberg I.E. (1997) “Spiral of Silence” or Cognitive Dissonance: Formation of Electoral Attitudes of Rural Residents. Sotsiologicheskiy zhurnal [Sociological Journal]. No. 4: 64–70. (In Russ.)]

6. Bell G.D. (1967) The Automobile Buyer after the Purchase. Journal of Marketing. Vol. 31. No. 3: 12–16. DOI: 10.1177/002224296703100304.

7. Chow P. (2001) The Psychometric Properties of the Cognitive Dissonance Test. Education. Vol. 122. No. 1: 45–49.

8. Cohen A.R., Brehm J.W., Fleming W.H. (1958) Attitude Change and Justification for Compliance. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. Vol. 56. No. 2: 276–278. DOI: 10.1037/h0047070.

9. Cohen J. (1988) Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.

10. Cooper J. (2012) Cognitive Dissonance Theory. In: Van Lange P.A.M., Kruglanski A.W., Higgins E.T. (eds) Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology. Vol. 1. London: Sage: 377–397.

11. Elkin R.A., Leippe M.R. (1986) Physiological Arousal, Dissonance, and Attitude Change: Evidence for a Dissonance-arousal Link and a “Don't Remind Me” Effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 51. No. 1: 55–65. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.51.1.55.

12. Elliot A.J., Devine P.G. (1994) On the Motivational Nature of Cognitive Dissonance: Dissonance as Psychological Discomfort. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 67. No. 3: 382–394. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.67.3.382.

13. Festinger L., Carlsmith J.M. (1959) Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. Vol. 58. No. 2: 203–211. DOI: 10.1037/h0041593.

14. Gecas V. (1982) The Self-concept. Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 8. No. 1: 1–33. DOI: 10.1146/

15. Geschwender J.A. (1968) Explorations in the Theory of Social Movements and Revolutions. Social Forces. Vol. 47. No. 2: 127–135. DOI: DOI: 10.2307/2575142.

16. Greenwald A.G., Ronis D.L. (1978) Twenty Years of Cognitive Dissonance: Case Study of the Evolution of a Theory. Psychological Review. Vol. 85. No. 1: 53–57. DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.85.1.53.

17. Groeber P., Lorenz J., Schweitzer F. (2014) Dissonance Minimization as a Microfoundation of Social Influence in Models of Opinion Formation. The Journal of Mathematical Sociology. Vol. 38. No. 3: 147–174. DOI: 10.1080/0022250X.2012.724486.

18. Halpern M.T. (1994) Effect of Smoking Characteristics on Cognitive Dissonance in Current and Former Smokers. Addictive Behaviors. 1994. Vol. 19. No. 2: 209–217. DOI: 10.1016/0306-4603(94)90044-2.

19. Kassarjian H.H., Cohen J.B. (1965) Cognitive Dissonance and Consumer Behavior. California Management Review. Vol. 8. No. 1: 55–64. DOI: 10.2307/3150746.

20. Kitayama S., Chua H.F., Tompson S., Han S. (2013) Neural Mechanisms of Dissonance: An fMRI Investigation of Choice Justification. Neuroimage. Vol. 69: 206–212. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.11.034.

21. Kneer J., Glock S., Rieger D. (2012) Fast and not Furious? Reduction of Cognitive Dissonance in Smokers. Social Psychology. Vol. 43. No. 2: 81–91. DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000086.

22. Margolis M.F. (2016) Cognitive Dissonance, Elections, and Religion: How Partisanship and the Political Landscape Shape Religious Behaviors. Public Opinion Quarterly. Vol. 80. No. 3: 717–740. DOI: 10.1093/poq/nfw023.

23. McMaster C., Lee C. (1991) Cognitive Dissonance in Tobacco Smokers. Addictive Behaviors. Vol. 16. No. 5: 349–353. DOI: 10.1016/0306-4603(91)90028-G.

24. Menasco M.B., Hawkins D.I. (1978) A Field Test of the Relationship between Cognitive Dissonance and State Anxiety. Journal of Marketing Research. Vol. 15. No. 4: 650–655. DOI: 10.1177/002224377801500417.

25. Montgomery C., Barnes J.H. (1993) POSTDIS: A Short Rating Scale for Measuring Postpurchase Dissonance. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior. Vol. 6. No. 1: 204–216.

26. Oakes W., Chapman S., Borland R., Balmford J., Trotter L. (2004) “Bulletproof Skeptics in Life's Jungle”: Which Self-Exempting Beliefs about Smoking Most Predict Lack of Progression towards Quitting? Preventive Medicine. Vol. 39. No. 4: 776–782. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.03.001.

27. Prus R.C. (1976) Religious Recruitment and the Management of Dissonance: A Sociological Perspective. Sociological Inquiry. Vol. 46. No. 2: 127–134. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.1976.tb00757.x.

28. Rabin M. (1994) Cognitive Dissonance and Social Change. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. Vol. 23. No. 2: 177–194.

29. Rokeach M. (1968) A Theory of Organization and Change within Value‐attitude Systems. Journal of Social Issues. Vol. 24. No. 1: 13–33. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1968.tb01466.x.

30. Schwartz D. (1971) A Theory of Revolutionary Behavior. In: Davies J.C. (ed.) When Men Revolt and Why. New York: Free Press: 109–132. DOI: 10.2307/2010111.

31. Steele C.M., Liu T.J. (1981) Making the Dissonant Act Unreflective of Self: Dissonance Avoidance and the Expectancy of a Value-affirming Response. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Vol. 7. No. 3: 393–397. DOI: 10.1177/014616728173004.

32. Steele C.M., Liu T.J. (1983) Dissonance Processes as Self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 45. No. 1: 5–19. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.45.1.5

33. Sweeney J.C., Hausknecht D., Soutar G.N. (2000) Cognitive Dissonance after Purchase: A Multidimensional Scale. Psychology & Marketing. Vol. 17. No. 5: 369–385. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6793(200005)17:53.0.CO;2-G.

34. Tagliacozzo R. (1979) Smokers' Self-categorization and the Reduction of Cognitive Dissonance. Addictive Behaviors. Vol. 4. No. 4: 393–399. DOI: 10.1016/0306-4603(79)90010-8.

35. Twigg O.C., Byrne D.G. (2015) Perceived Susceptibility to Addiction among Adolescent Smokers. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse. Vol. 24. No. 5: 235–242. DOI: 10.1080/1067828X.2013.812531.

Система Orphus