Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Post-Decision Dissonance

"Cognitive dissonance theory is pretty sexy" (Giuliano 2010).  So basically this theory states that we feel some discomfort when our actions do not represent our attitudes (Festinger 1957). So I think everyone has had a little trouble when deciding between two equally desirable choices. Well according to Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory, the choice you make is the right one. This particular part of Festinger's theory is called post-decision dissonance. It basically states that after we make a decision between two equal options, we get uncomfortable and start to wonder if we made the right decision. This discomfort causes us to pinpoint all the positives of our chosen option and all the negatives of the unchosen one. As college students we all probably went through this when we were applying to school. We had two schools that had amazing qualities, with more things that we would love than hate, that pertained to our interests and likes; however, we chose SU, and probably denoted the other school, called out its flaws. 
When I was about 9 years old my parents and I took a trip to Disney Land in Florida. We spent about a week there. On the last day before we flew out my dad gave me the choice between riding Space Mountain and a few other roller coasters that I liked a lot or going back to the water park which was like a natural spring and had rope swings and all kinds of super fun 9 year old stuff. This was a toughy for me. I had loved both equally, but for different reasons. Inevitably I chose the roller coasters, even though I wanted to do both. At the time, I can remember thinking, "Why would I go back to the water park, when I can swim at home?" This is a perfect example of post-decision dissonance in action. I devalued the water park because I had chosen the roller coasters. The "logical" decision I had made was only logical in that I rid myself of the discomfort and enjoyed the rest of my day at Disney. 

                                                                 SPACE MOUNTAIN

Festinger, Leon. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology58, 203-210.

Giuliano, Traci. (2010). In class on monday. My Social Psych Notebook, 1, 115-117.

1 comment:

  1. good decision water park water is dirty ;)I was able to avoid cognitive dissonance at Disney Land but only riding on the tea cups and boycotting all the roller coasters.