The Role of Affect in Cognitive-Dissonance Processes

Authored by: Eddie Harmon-Jones

Handbook of Affect and Social Cognition

Print publication date:  November  2000
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780805832174
eBook ISBN: 9781410606181
Adobe ISBN: 9781135670061


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The theory of cognitive dissonance is based on the idea that inconsistency between elements of knowledge (cognitions) leads to a negative affective state that can motivate changes in elements of knowledge. The theory has generated considerable research aimed at better understanding, explaining, and predicting the formation and change of values, beliefs, attitudes, motivations, emotions, and behaviors. For instance, research derived from the theory has shown that dissonance processes can reduce hunger motivation, pain, and body weight; that dissonance processes can cause the internalization of values and the change of attitudes and beliefs about oneself; that dissonance processes can affect health behavior; and that dissonance processes can cause the formation and maintenance of religious beliefs (for reviews, see Beauvois & Joule, 1996; Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999; Wicklund & Brehm, 1976; Zimbardo, 1969).

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