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Cognitive dissonance advertising: Cognitive Dissonance in Ads, PR, and More


Cognitive Dissonance in Ads, PR, and More

Advertisers try to paint a picture that your life isn’t complete without their product or their service. Many use cognitive dissonance to point out the inconsistencies between the idealized version of you and the real-life you. You experience dissonance because you want to see yourself in that idealized way, but you don’t necessarily use that product or service.

“It’s a tool that marketers and advertisers use all the time,” says Matt Johnson, PhD, professor and associate dean at Hult International Business School in San Francisco. “A lot of advertisements are set up where they’ll make this explicit claim that you’re only cool or beautiful or worthy (or some other positive attribute) if you own this product or service.”

Think about a shampoo commercial. A beautiful woman’s hair blows in the wind. She looks happy, healthy, and gorgeous. The underlying message is that you too could look happy, healthy, and gorgeous if you use the same shampoo she uses. You experience dissonance because you want to look and feel happy, healthy, and gorgeous, but you don’t necessarily use that shampoo.

You, the consumer, are left with a few options, Johnson explains. You can reject the claim completely (which is what very strong-minded people do, Johnson says). Or you can resolve the dissonance by accepting the message and changing your behavior, meaning you buy the shampoo. Or you can resolve the dissonance by accepting the message and changing your belief. You may start to see yourself as less beautiful and healthy because you don’t use that product, Johnson says.

“You can modify your original belief system or you can resolve the cognitive dissonance by actually buying what they’re selling,” Johnson says. The advertiser, of course, wants you to do the latter. And if you choose the former, your self-esteem will likely take a hit since you must acknowledge you don’t possess these positive qualities.

RELATED: Cognitive Dissonance Happens All the Time in Real Life

The more persuasive and more compelling the advertisement, the stronger the dissonance and the more urgently you’ll need to resolve it, Johnson adds.

You may have seen this tactic used by luxury companies who set out to sell a lifestyle more than a specific product. “You may not even see what the product is within the advertisement,” Johnson says. “What they’re doing is marketing a lifestyle and marketing a status or a mentality that’s associated with the brand.”

Their goal is to get you to believe in and support that brand because you want to attain that lifestyle.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance in Marketing? | Small Business

By Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D., Updated March 01, 2019

Cognitive dissonance is the state of mind that holds opposing, and even irreconcilable ideas, at the same time. It’s a state of mind that most people find sufficiently uncomfortable to motivate them to find some way of reconciling the two views – for instance, by rejecting the authority of one of the views. Often, the resolution is irrational. Marketing strategies that employ cognitive dissonance can be effective, although only within certain limits.


People are hardwired to seek consistency in their views and behaviors. Cognitive dissonance occurs when information comes along that runs counter to your beliefs.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

Here’s an everyday example of cognitive dissonance. You’re a liberal voter (or a conservative voter – it works equally well in both instances) and you read a newspaper article about an African-American man. According to the article, he is innocent of a terrible crime but was convicted and sentenced to die, based on what the authors describe as clearly faked evidence set up by a sheriff’s department. Legal groups devoted to freeing wrongly convicted prisoners have appealed the case to the governor, asking him to allow a blood test that could prove the man’s guilt or innocence. The governor has not responded to the request, either way.

If you’re a liberal, you may find that your general approval of a liberal governor conflicts with his refusal to honor a request that could save an innocent man’s life. If you’re a conservative, you agree with the governor’s refusal to grant yet one more opportunity to an already convicted felon. But this conflicts with your general disapproval of this liberal Democratic governor.

Liberal or conservative, you’re confronted with an article that requires you to reconcile two views that oppose each other, which is the essence of cognitive dissonance. Conservative readers may resolve the dissonance by concluding that the article had a liberal media bias (fake news!) and that the real facts were so clearly indicative of the man’s guilt that even a liberal governor couldn’t justify granting the request. Liberal readers may resolve the dissonance by concluding that the governor will eventually respond by ordering the needed test.

Cognitive Dissonance in Marketing

Cognitive dissonance strategies that require a consumer to reconcile two conflicting views by buying a product can be effective in marketing, especially if the reconciliation of opposing views protects or enhances the consumer’s self-image.

For instance, you consider yourself a savvy automotive enthusiast. In the course of a visit to a high-end auto dealership, the salesperson emphasizes that “a lot of Americans aren’t sophisticated enough to understand why this car is actually a great buy.” On the one hand, if you resist the sales pitch for this very expensive car, you appear unsophisticated; on the other hand, if you agree, then you’re progressing down the marketing patch toward the purchase of a car you can’t afford.

Faced with this kind of cognitive dissonance, many consumers will go along with the sales pitch to avoid being viewed as an unsophisticated person without the real knowledge required to fully appreciate the car.

Consumers Want to be Perceived Favorably

Most marketing strategies that employ cognitive dissonance in the service of selling a product rely on our desire to be perceived favorably – for example, as sophisticated, hip, knowledgeable or affluent. We might ordinarily not buy the product because it doesn’t interest us, too expensive or for any other good reason. This understandable desire to see ourselves favorably motivates the purchase, which is how a marketing strategy that relies on cognitive dissonance encourages consumers to resolve the dissonance in the situation.

The Limits of Cognitive Dissonance in Advertising

Cognitive dissonance strategies in marketing only work within limits. Generally and somewhat counter intuitively, the stronger the consumer’s view that the advertising potentially opposes, the better the strategy can work. But if the distance between the consumer’s view and that offered through the marketing strategy is too great, the consumer may reject the approach and the product. The end result can be active disdain for the product or the company that makes the product, along with the ad itself.

Use of Cognitive Dissonance in PR and Advertising

At a very basic level, cognitive dissonance is all about inconsistency. Marketers, advertisers and PR pros constantly use this marketing technique to persuade consumers behaviour and beliefs. We are all experienced this phenomenon of cognitive dissonance in everyday life but we may not have recognised it. Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person’s belief and behaviour conflict with each other. This theory explains why people change their behaviour and attitudes when it comes to decision making. Human beings as a social animal enjoy leading a normal and stable life. But when they exposed to conflicting cognition people react in different ways and turned to be distressed. This social behaviour is called cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance was first introduced as a social psychology theory by Leon Festinger in the year 1957. According to cognitive dissonance, if a person holds two beliefs that are relevant to each other but are inconsistent, dissonance will rise. Dissonance happens through human interactions and socialising including the TV advertisements, media narratives, digital video contents and other social media contents you scroll down every day, all of these factors play a substantial role to provoke this effect.

This theory plays a very important role in the field of communications and public relations. Public relations is all about persuading the audience to generate interest in a particular brand. PR professionals are the brand custodians of a brand who is responsible for the goodwill and reputation of a brand. When they run a campaign, ultimately they try to sway the behaviour of a target group, usually by presenting information to move people to their side. This generates a cognitive mindset of beliefs in them which is contradictory to their existing beliefs and behaviour. The success of this theory in public relations mainly depends on how well a PR professional can persuade the mindset of a group of people on a primary level.

“Persuasive communication is at the heart of public relations,” says Terence Flynn, PhD, in an institute of public relations article. PR pros use cognitive dissonance to tweak the behavioural decisions and beliefs of people by presenting information through effective storytelling.
They try to paint a new picture by articulating a new narrative about your life. Every individual has an idealistic version of life ingrained in their mind and this develops cognitive dissonance or contradictory attitudes, forcing to sway the current lifestyle to adorn the idealistic one. It is a tool that all the marketers and advertisers use whenever they promote their products. Their major goal is to make a constant change in your behaviour to support and believe in their product.

But ads and PR not always use this theory to manipulate people’s behaviour, they also use it for good cause. We can use cognitive dissonance to popularise a good cause and influence people to consider belief as part of their lifestyle. Think cigarette brands and their ads from the 1960s and 1970s that continued to portray smoking as glamorous even after medical science revealed it as harmful and dangerous to health. Also, the PR campaigns have rebranded recycling as “cool”. Using cognitive dissonance as social psychology in the realm of PR can nudge people into positive behaviour.

This blog post originally appeared on Vani Krishna’s blog: vaanikrishna.wordpress.com

Vani Krishna 

Vani is a part of the Class of 2021 of PG Programme in PR and Corporate Communications at SCoRe Mumbai. She pursued her bachelor’s degree from Mangalore University. She is passionate about Sports and Arts. She has done an internship in a Kerala based PR firm Davidson PR & Communications, and with the Department of Information and Public Relations- (I&PRD) Kerala Government. She can be reached at @VK_thefernweh on Twitter, and as Vani Krishna on LinkedIn.

What is it and why does it matter?

Have you ever skipped a workout even though you’ve set a goal of getting in shape? Or laid in bed scrolling through Instagram at night even though you’re trying to improve sleep ? Or been rude to a slow cashier even though kindness to strangers is one of your most deeply held values? All of these are examples of cognitive dissonance, when your mind holds opposing or irreconcilable ideas at the same time. It’s a fundamental principle of psychology, but turns out it’s also a powerful driver of consumer behavior.

Cognitive dissonance matters for brands because it reveals people’s deeply held beliefs — what they value, what they desire and fear, how they want to be perceived — and these are the beliefs that drive consumer behavior. Strong brands can identify these subconscious drivers and narrow the gap between what people believe and what they do, making it much easier for a person to become a customer. 

What Cognitive Dissonance Means In A Brand Context

 There are a couple different ways that cognitive dissonance is relevant for brands:

  • In terms of the expectations consumers have for your brand/product.
  • In terms of the values and beliefs of the individual consumer, as it relates to how they use your brand/product.

With number one, we’re talking about expectations for things like what your brand design looks like, features your product will have, or the language your brand uses in their marketing. For example, consumers would expect that a serious product, like diabetes medication, would use authoritative language and understated design. If it had a whimsical logo with bright colors and humor-focused marketing, this would create cognitive dissonance for the consumer, and they’d avoid that feeling by avoiding the product.  

With number two, we’re talking about internal cognitive dissonance that a consumer feels about whether or not to use a product, or about certain behaviors in their own life that they want to change.

Both types of cognitive dissonance are equally important for the brands, but the first of these is a bit simpler, so let’s explore it first.

Cognitive Dissonance Examples In Brand Design and Identity

People have certain expectations around what brands should look and sound like, based on the products or services they offer. Let’s look at the various aspects of brand design that have the potential to create cognitive dissonance:

Think about what colors make the most sense for your brand. So if a sports team associated with the colors blue and orange unveils a new mascot in a green and purple outfit, it won’t be well-received because of the cognitive dissonance it creates.

Shapes can be soft or sharp, perfectly straight or hand-drawn, open or closed. Each choice conveys something about your brand, and using shapes that don’t match your brand identity will create cognitive dissonance.

Logo Design
Studies on visual design show that people become uncomfortable when they see a logo confined tightly within a restricting shape — so uncomfortable that they want to avoid that logo and brand. So when you’re creating a logo, consider this feature along with the shapes and colors of your design.

Font says a lot about the identity of a brand. Imagine a comedy network using a somber font like Times New Roman, or the website for a business consultancy being written in Comic Sans — these are both choices that fly in the face of what people expect, and thus create cognitive dissonance for people who encounter it.

Tone of voice
Think about what you want your brand to sound like in different situations and how your customers perceive your language. If you are a pharmaceutical company, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t throw in puns or emojis when talking about a new cancer medication. But there are more nuanced tones in language as well.

For example, innovative companies tend to use short, statement-like sentences to communicate their messages. Apple, for example, could say “Your next computer is not a computer. The world’s most advanced mobile display. So fast most PC laptops can’t catch up.” This type of language creates urgency and paints a picture of the vision Apple has for their new iPad.

Cognitive Dissonance for the Consumer

Now, let’s move on to the consumer’s internal cognitive dissonance: that is, the gap between their own beliefs and actions. This type of cognitive dissonance can manifest in a couple ways, both of which businesses can address in their branding and product design.

The first way cognitive dissonance manifests is through guilt or regret over purchasing a product. Buyer’s remorse is one of the most familiar forms of cognitive dissonance. Imagine that you splurged on a pair of expensive jeans, and then feel guilty because you value financial responsibility. In this situation, you can try to reduce your cognitive dissonance in a number of different ways. 

  • Changing your behavior. Here, you can change your behavior by simply returning the jeans. Voilà — it’s like you never bought them, and so your actions are once again aligned with your values.
  • Changing your beliefs. Here, you try to change your beliefs by convincing yourself that financial responsibility isn’t actually all that important. You might tell yourself that practicing self-care (by buying yourself nice things, like the jeans) is a higher priority.
  • Changing how you perceive your beliefs. Here, you keep the jeans and you continue to value financial responsibility, but take steps to convince yourself that purchasing the jeans was, indeed, a financially responsible decision. You could do this by wearing the jeans all the time so that you get more bang for your buck, or by reading tons of positive reviews that reinforce how great the jeans were. Suddenly, it feels like a very reasonable choice!

Brands can leverage this type of cognitive dissonance and tap into a large market by helping consumers change the way they perceive their behavior — in other words, making it easy for them to justify their purchase of your product.

The second way that cognitive dissonance can manifest for a consumer is with regard to the consumer’s own actions and beliefs. Say a person wants to lose weight but they simply can’t stop eating two cookies every night (who can relate?). Just as with buyers’ remorse, the person can address this cognitive dissonance by changing their behavior, changing their beliefs, or changing how they perceive their behavior. When a brand can help a person lessen their cognitive dissonance, they unlock a huge opportunity.

Brands That Are Leveraging Cognitive Dissonance

Let’s look at a couple examples to clarify how brands can use cognitive dissonance to grow.

Say someone wants to lose weight, but they can’t seem to eat more healthily. They experience cognitive dissonance between their behavior and who they want to be. Food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal give them transparency into what they’re eating, but don’t do anything to change their behavior or attitude.  

The app Noom, on the other hand, knows that oftentimes people make poor diet choices for a variety of reasons, and you need to change those underlying reasons rather than just throwing poor choices into starker relief. Noom uses psychological principles to educate users about the consequences of each food choice, subtly shifting their attitudes toward various foods. Eventually, this helps change the user’s desires, closing the gap between what they want and what they do. There’s now a new behavior (eating more healthily) coupled with a new perception of that behavior (“I’m knowledgeable about my food, and make choices that support my health.”). 

Let’s take charity as another example. Someone considers themselves a generous and charitable person, but they ignore the letters that come in from St. Jude asking for money to fight cancer in children. This creates cognitive dissonance. Enter Amazon: their website smile.amazon.com donates 0.5% of the price of select purchases to your charity of choice — all you have to do is opt in when the website prompts you. Humans tend to behave selfishly, which makes it difficult to give to charity, but when you’re getting something in return (whatever you’re buying from Amazon), it’s easier. The cognitive dissonance is removed, and people are more likely to shop from Amazon again.

Red meat is another great example. Many people value the environment and animal rights, but just love burgers too much to give up red meat. Brands like Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have allowed people to completely eliminate their cognitive dissonance: they get to eat burgers that taste just like meat without compromising their moral integrity. Win-win-win!

All of these examples show how powerful it is when brands give you permission to be who you are and do what you want to do, without feeling discomfort about your own internal contradictions.

How to Use Cognitive Dissonance to Build Your Brand and Grow Business

So by now, you probably want to leverage the power of cognitive dissonance for your brand. Here’s how:

  • Look inward. When in your life do you experience cognitive dissonance? Try to observe the world through this lens for a few weeks, and you’ll begin to notice the discomfort that you feel when your actions don’t align with your values. By doing this sort of introspection, you’ll more easily notice cognitive dissonance in others and for your brand.
  • Consider your users. Why do users come to your brand? What compels them to become users or customers? What holds them back? What do they value? Identify their pain points and see if you can unearth any cognitive dissonance that underlies them (spoiler alert: you probably will).
  • Figure out your approach. How will you lessen consumers’ cognitive dissonance? Will it be by changing their belief, changing/adapting their behavior, or changing their perception of their behavior? You don’t have to opt for just one pathway here — changing more than one aspect can be even more effective.
  • Recognize that different types and degrees of cognitive dissonance require different approaches. Consider the dissonance a smoker feels when they think about the health risks of cigarettes vs. the dissonance a healthy millennial feels when they eat too many Cheetos in bed — you’ll want to be sensitive to the emotional and psychological intensity of the dissonance in how you try to resolve it. 

In the end, the main takeaway for brands is that people want to feel good about their choices. If your brand can do that for somebody, they’re bound to return to you again and again.

The Moldy Whopper ad got our attention, but did it sell?

By: Jake McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer

It’s a tense time at Intermark right now, literally.

There’s COVID, but we’re also exploring the art of conflict and tension in advertising to drive engagement in our upcoming webinar. We will be discussing brands like Nike, Allstate and Burger King who take provocative and bold stances on controversial topics as well as incorporate behavioral-based strategies for conflict and tension into their campaigns.  

One example is Burger King’s controversial ad campaign highlighted by a color picture of the Whopper, their signature product, covered in mold. The body copy of the ad highlights that the Whopper can grow mold because it has no preservatives.  The reaction online was swift and generated a lot of buzz.

While there is rumor the inspiration for the campaign was McDonald’s, who claimed their hamburgers were resistant to rotting, the campaign itself is an excellent example of conflict and tension in advertising. Burger King embraced cognitive dissonance, a psychological principle that creates conflicting attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, to create disgust and in turn awareness with viewers. 

Instead of turning viewers away from Burger King, the campaign was an internet and news sensation. Its video achieved impressive results including 8.4 billion organic media impressions and was watched for a total of 1.4 million minutes on Facebook and had 2.5 million views on YouTube. Compared to Burger King’s 2019 Super Bowl campaign, the Moldy Whopper reached a level of awareness that was 50% higher and was one of the most discussed Super Bowl campaigns last year. 

Burger King’s decision to elicit disgust was intentional and led to the committed response to remove artificial preservatives from their food, and this decision ultimately became top of mind for consumers. For advertisers everywhere, their decision was not for the faint of heart (or stomach) but was immensely rewarding.

To learn more about cognitive dissonance and conflict and tension in marketing, check out our webinar on The Art of Conflict: https://intermarkgroup.com/webinar/.

Cognitive Dissonance in Marketing: Definition & Examples – Video & Lesson Transcript

Definition of Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is when your words, thoughts, and/or deeds contradict your beliefs. Because each person has a self-image that’s complete, consistent, and non-contradictory, there’s a very strong drive to reduce cognitive dissonance. The primary ways of reducing cognitive dissonance are to change words, thoughts, and/or deeds; change beliefs; engage in denial of one or more of the aforementioned; or reframe one of the aforementioned. No matter how we reduce cognitive dissonance, it must be done in some way or another.

Cognitive Dissonance in Marketing

The example from before highlights the use of cognitive dissonance in trying to get people to give their time, attention, and resources to whatever the marketer is promoting. In the case of the clipboard crusader, it’s a donation or a signature on a petition, and the individual tries to induce cognitive dissonance by framing the option of walking away as being inconsistent with your beliefs. ‘Surely you, who have so much, can afford to give one measly minute for the sake of the poor and underprivileged homeless!’ Yet, there are many other ways that marketers can use cognitive dissonance.

Examples of Its Use

‘Why settle for a cheap, F-Brand product, when you could have a state-of-the-art A-Brand product, all for a low price of (far more than the F-Brand product)?’

Take a look at the marketing scheme here: The implication is that you deserve the best product, and who in their right mind would say otherwise? Therefore, you would be a hypocrite if you didn’t purchase the A-Brand product, because you would be willing to accept an inferior product despite the knowledge that you deserve the best. Now, perhaps you could justify having the F-Brand product because of the price, but the marketers have you covered there, too. After all, the F-Brand product is ‘cheap’ (which you aren’t!), and the A-Brand product can be had for a ‘low price.’ Never mind that the ‘low price’ is higher than the F-Brand product’s price. At least you aren’t cheap, and you aren’t paying a ‘high price’ to get the best that you deserve! Therefore, you should buy the A-Brand product, or so the marketer would like you to believe.

Lesson Summary

Cognitive dissonance is when your thoughts, actions, and/or words contradict your beliefs, and the drive to reduce cognitive dissonance is powerful. Marketers capitalize on this by framing their advertising to induce cognitive dissonance in such a way that the easiest and most-obvious way to reduce the dissonance is to buy the product. It’s also arguably pretty effective, since who wants to be seen as a hypocrite? Incidentally, the way out of the clipboard crusader’s imposition of cognitive dissonance is to answer him or her with, ‘Sure I do, but this is not the minute!’.

Cognitive Dissonance and Advertising – 1954 Words

Cognitive Dissonance and Advertising

Advertising deals with people’s feelings and emotions. It includes understanding of the psychology of the buyer, his motives, attitudes, as well as the influences on him such as his family and reference groups, social class and culture. In order to increase the advertisements persuasiveness, advertisers use many types of extensions of behavioural sciences to marketing and buying behaviour. One such extension is the theory of cognitive dissonance. The purpose of advertising can be to create a cognitive dissonance to generate a favourable response from the buyer toward a product or a concept.

First of all, I will talk about the purpose of advertising and its mechanism and I will look at how it can be related to the theory of cognitive dissonance. In addition to that, I will examine the effects of fear appeals on consumers, which are a direct application of the theory of cognitive dissonance. I will try to provide concrete examples of fear appeals and I will take into consideration the ethical aspect of fear appeals. In last part, I will give some examples, where advertisements are used to reduce the cognitive dissonance.

The purpose of advertising is simply to sell a product or a service. In social contexts ads have many other applications such as reducing accidents, increasing voting and reducing smoking which must be assessed instead of profit. However people do not automatically buy a product after they are exposed to an ad. First, they have thoughts or feelings about a product, and then they buy it. Advertising and other types of marketing communications directly affect consumer’s mental processes. Advertising can be thought of as stimulus that produces a response or an effect. Moreover, the main objective of advertisements is to convince consumers that the alternative offered by the product provides the best chance to attain the goal.

The attitude toward the advertisement is defined “as a predisposition to respond in favourable or unfavourable manner to a particular advertising stimulus during a particular exposure occasion ”. The range of feelings generated by advertisements is broad and spreads from contentment to repulsion. Those feelings can have a direct impact on brand attitudes.

It is really important for advertisers to generate a feeling that will modify the buyer’s attitude tow…

… middle of paper …

…vertisers to be familiar with those concepts and to understand their implications.

Works Cited:

SOLOMON M, Consumer behaviour: a European perspective, 1999, Prentice Hall

EAST R., Consumer Behaviour: Advances and applications in marketing, 1997, Prentice Hall.

FOXALL G.R. and GOLDSMITH R.E., 1995, Consumer Psychology for Marketing, Routledge.

FILL C., 1995, Marketing Communications, Prentice Hall.

SCHIFFMAN L., 1994, Consumer Behaviour, Prentice Hall.

SHIMP T.A., 1993 , Promotion management and marketing communications, 3rd edition, The Dryden Press.

SCHUDSON M., 1993, Advertising, the uneasy persuasion. It’s dubious impact on American society, Routledge.

ASSAEL H., 1987, Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Action, 3rd edition, PWS-Kent Publishing Company.

WILLIAMSON J., 1978, Decoding advertisements : ideology and meaning in advertising, Boyars.

FESTINGER L., 1957, A theory of cognitive dissonance, Evanston.

Quick References :

Journal of advertisements.

Journal of marketing research.

Internet :



Cognitive dissonance and its application in marketing / Habr

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological discomfort that is caused by the contradiction between the existing established perception of a person and fresh incoming information, in other words, it is any discrepancy between expectations and reality.

An example of cognitive dissonance is Krylov’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes”. The hungry fox saw a vine with hanging bunches and wanted to get to them, but could not and, walking away, said to herself: “Well, well! It looks good, but green – there is no ripe berry: Immediately set your teeth on edge. “

Two incompatible feelings coexisted in the fox – desire and disappointment. The criticism she expressed was a way to neutralize this imbalance and resolve the conflict.

People subconsciously strive for internal coherence. Inconsistency leads to psychological discomfort, so a person avoids information that does not coincide with his beliefs and values. So he tries to maintain peace of mind and be happy.

In most cases, people try to reduce their cognitive dissonance in one of four ways:

Let’s say you are losing weight and there is a donut in front of you.

  1. Change the behavior: “I will not eat the donut.”
  2. Justify their behavior by changing conflicting thoughts or adding new ones: “I can eat a donut once a week” or “Now I will eat a donut and go for a run in the evening to burn those extra calories.”
  3. Change self-esteem or values, reduce or exaggerate their importance: “Why do I need abs and a flat stomach, life is short, and she needs time to enjoy it.”
  4. Ignore or deny information that contradicts existing beliefs: “This is a non-nutritive donut, so I eat it,” or: “I read that regular donuts are good for your health.”

How to use cognitive dissonance in design and marketing

Before correlating cognitive dissonance with marketing, it is important to understand that when faced with cognitive dissonance, people want to do something to reduce the inner conflict they feel.

Let’s go back to the donut example. A café can introduce a truly low-calorie product on the menu, or emphasize that it contains natural and healthy ingredients to reduce the dieter’s guilt.

The marketer’s job is to reduce user dissonance. If you insist that your product is easy to use but difficult to navigate, visitors will begin to question the product’s promised simplicity.

Remember, any inconsistency in your design and marketing increases dissonance.

Good Ways to Use Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance can be a tool for persuasion. It is often used as a Foot-in-the-Door technique (translated from English as a foot in a doorway).Its essence lies in reducing the user’s resistance by gradually increasing the complexity of the task assigned to him.

Imagine you are working on onboarding for your product. Before asking users for a big service (becoming a paying customer), first ask them for a service so small (one-click signup for free) that they are likely to fulfill your request.

Once they have “stepped out the door”, you can wait a little and ask them for a bigger favor.In the end, you can get them to become a paying user of your product.

How else can you use this principle in marketing:

  • Discount on the first purchase. In addition to the magnetic effect of the word “discount”, the Foot-in-the-Door technique is also included here. The discount can be very large, and buying for modest money is not difficult at all. The first step has taken place, and then the person can be offered a product for a high price.
  • Product lines. The offer as a whole is of interest to the client, but buying an expensive product right away is scary. But a person can buy something inexpensive (or get it for free) right away. Then purchases of more expensive goods can follow, and with good quality, many buyers will get to the segment with the highest prices.

We actively use this technique in Photostrana. We invite users to pick up a free gift:

And a little later, buy a set with a discount:

  • Promote a cheap product and sell a profitable one. This is what Ikea stores do, producing billboards and leaflets with glasses and towels at almost cost. But upon arriving at the store for glasses, almost every customer walks out with a cart loaded with high-margin merchandise.

Often people register for free services because they were forced to do it, and not because they needed it. This is where a small cognitive dissonance appears, which people try to neutralize using one of the four named ways.

By using the Foot-in-the-Door technique, you increase the likelihood that someone will comply with your request. It is important not to be too persistent, because the user will turn away from you. It is extremely important to give people time to rest and sort out their thoughts if you want this technique to be effective.

The fact is that when performing an action for the first time, a certain model of behavior is formed in a person’s consciousness, which he will resort to at the next identical call to action.

Every time you ask a user for a service, you create a small cognitive dissonance that is proportional to the scale of the service. This is why the product needs to be designed so that the user has time to deal with the cognitive dissonance on their own.

Imagine the user’s thoughts after the free registration: “Why did I subscribe to this product? I think he can be useful to me … I think I like him. ” Now is the time to ask for another little favor, then pause and continue.

The more services a user has provided, the bigger your next request can be. By encouraging people to invest in your product, you create trust and dependency.

With cognitive dissonance, you can turn users into a loyal audience. But this is only possible if you use dissonance wisely. Don’t be annoying and persuade users to make their interactions with your product enjoyable.

neuromarketologist told how to make a memorable ad

Although the word “neuromarketing” appeared in 2002, in Russia the term became widely known only 5-6 years ago.During this time, the concept has become blurred: neurobiological research, which is carried out in scientific laboratories, and two-month courses “neuromarketing from scratch” are called neuromarketing.

Natalia Galkina, a neurophysiologist, economist and CEO of Neurotrend and NeuroChat, spoke about what neuromarketing is and how it will change our lives.

The equipment used in neuromarketing comes from medicine. Back in the last century, doctors began to examine the brains of people in order to make a diagnosis, to see if there is a hematoma or a tumor, what changes in the brain cause the disease.It was difficult to answer these questions without equipment, but everything is visible on a CT scanner.

Naturally, when advanced medical equipment was invented and the opportunity arose to see what was going on in their heads, people wanted to know how we make decisions. How different parts of the brain work and the whole neural network in general. It turned out that there are many factors by which we can track that at some point a person became interested, began to think over the information, remembered it, or did not remember it at all.Under certain conditions, one can even say what kind of emotions a person experienced.

What is neuromarketing?

Now neuromarketing is, on the one hand, a section of neuroeconomics and behavioral economics. On the other hand, it is an applied tool for marketers.

In short, this is a new direction in marketing research. Neuromarketologists study human reactions, primarily sensory-motor and cognitive responses to various advertising and marketing incentives.

Neuromarketing helps to understand how a person perceived, for example, a commercial. Even if he himself cannot say with certainty whether he was interested or not, the equipment clearly shows: “At that moment he was as attentive as possible, he was interested. And after 10 seconds, it’s not so good. ”

What can be measured and what equipment is used?

Neuromarketologists analyze data that cannot be seen: rapid eye movements, weak bioelectrical activity of the brain, changes in the lumen of blood vessels and skin conduction, respiratory rate and heart rate.To collect such data, you need different equipment – eye trackers, encephalographs, polygraphs, computed tomographs.

Eytrackers, for example, help to track the direction of gaze, duration of viewing, change in the size of the pupils. If a person looks at an ad banner, the eye tracker shows which element has attracted attention and which has not. And if a person scans the site with his eyes, you can see which blocks he was interested in – it is better to place important information there.

They’ll crawl into our brains: true neuromarketing, dopamine and the future of advertising

On the importance of facial expressions

Another aspect is the observation of emotions.The heart stops with fear, the heart stops with joy – from the point of view of physiology, these reactions are difficult to distinguish. But on the face, on the mimicry it is clearly visible. When the smile is real, the mouth is smiling and the eyes are smiling. And when stretched – the mouth smiles, and the eyes are sad. Therefore, during the research, the faces of people are recorded, by decoding which we will receive not only information about the strength of the emotion, but also about what specific emotion was, at what moment.

Possessing all these tools, we can really understand what happens to a person when he comes into contact with something: learns something, reads, looks at advertising, watches a movie, walks around the store, drives around the city.

Why measure brain activity when you can just ask people about their impressions?

The way we explain to ourselves why we acted in one way or another is important information, but not always reliable.

Even our image on social networks is different from what we are in real life. Very often we are there as we want to see ourselves, and not as we really are. And the decisions are ultimately made by the I, which is “we really”.

The most valuable information is at the junction of a person’s physical sensations and speech.

If we know what a person said after watching a movie or an advertisement, and we know that while watching a movie, what he felt, what kind of brain activity he had, what moments he focused on, and what he didn’t, we can predict mass behavior. Whether people watch this film or advertisement to the end or not, they will be interested in the process or they will be bored.

Neuromarketing, or How to take over the buyer’s brain

How do you choose advertising?

People in the lab are shown commercials made by the agency.There are sensors on them, the direction of gaze is tracked by an eye tracker. Then we analyze the results and see: the first video was watched more attentively. And the second scared everyone.

It is clear that the final result depends not only on us. There is drama in a commercial, there is creativity, the creators must find a way to attract the attention of a potential buyer. At the same time, we can say for sure whether they attracted this attention or not. Or they caused irritation. Or they are so distressed that a person thinks of only one thing: “I don’t want to watch it at all, turn it off sooner”.We can trace this for sure.

It happens that a brand produces, for example, an advertisement for a medicine. Pain is shown there, then a drug that relieves this pain. But a person associates himself with the main character, and if the brand has passed, he no longer wants anything. A creative might think, “Great moment, it evokes emotions.” And indeed, emotions have been triggered, but only people will not even check to the end now.

How to sell a bad product?

A neuromarketist cannot make everyone run to buy a bad product.In an amicable way, if a manufacturer has made such a product, it needs to be improved. Today the problem is not that low-quality competes with good. The problem is that the good competes with the best.

Another thing is that there are different price categories, and each category has buyers.

Neuromarketologists are able to accurately determine with what words to describe the advantages of a product, which packaging will please people more. We can put sensors on a person and measure – here there was an emotional response, here he became interested.

If, for example, a producer of cheap milk comes to neuromarketologists, of course, this milk does not compete with fresh milk, which is stored for 3 days. But it is still milk, it meets all GOST standards, it is cheap, porridge is made on it, it is added to sauces, it is stored for a long time and does not deteriorate. You cannot create high expectations, you cannot deceive. It is necessary to isolate the properties that will be significant for some audience, and focus on them.

How to make an advertisement remember?

We have conducted research and analyzed more than 850 Russian commercials.With the help of an EEG, an eye tracker and a polygraph, we measured which ads are watched more attentively, which are more memorable. The research has shown that the leaders of our rating use similar techniques – rather simple ones.


  1. First of all, movement attracts attention. Observing moving objects requires significant brain resources, you need to track the direction, speed and nature of movement. Sports videos attract attention perfectly: people in them run, jump, lift weights, and we concentrate on what is happening – this is how our vision works.
  1. Second win-win technique – showing faces or emotions . These should be either unusual faces or vivid emotions – anger, rage, surprise, laughter.

Vivid experiences attract more intense attention: both the left hemisphere, which is associated with face recognition, and the right hemisphere, which are responsible for reading emotions, are activated.

And, of course, famous people attract attention, this is a win-win way.

  1. Another way to attract attention is figure-ground ratio .When there is nothing in emptiness, but only the desired object, which is in motion, long-term fixation of attention on this object is ensured.
  1. Works well sudden change of view of the hero. For example, in one of the videos of “Sportmaster” they first show the hero’s face, and then he looks at the sneakers. At this moment, we look more closely.

Perception is arranged in such a way that we immediately turn our gaze to where the other person is looking.This is analogous to the pointing finger effect.

  1. Finally, selfies catch the eye. Modern people often take selfies themselves – and carefully watch how others take selfies.

There is even a certain pattern of eye movement: first we look at the hero’s face, and then at the smartphone, which is used to film all this. The viewer seems to want to know what will turn out in the photo.


  1. Memorability is well influenced by repetition of .Both images and slogan. Especially in the original context. In order for the viewer to remember the phrase well, it is necessary to repeat it several times in one video.
  2. Particularly memorable rhythmic phrase . Advertisers noticed this long ago, hence all the slogans: “Don’t slow down – snickersney”, “Gillette – no better for a man”, but now the effectiveness of this technique has been confirmed by research.
  3. Increase in memorability Cognitive dissonance – familiar images in strange situations.For example, MTS has a video where Nagiyev and Malikov are sitting in the dressing room and discussing how they want to be at home now and watch TV. Boyarsky suddenly bursts in, kicks both of them onto the stage, and Nagiyev sadly says: “I want to go home.” The voiceover says, “As long as they have concerts and corporate parties, you can have great movie weekends.”

The audience did not think about the life of celebrities from such an angle and did not notice that their life is somehow better than the life of famous people. This is called cognitive dissonance.Such a video is likely to be remembered.

  1. Another trick is the pronounced storyline . The presence of a plot enhances interest in the event that there is an intrigue and you want to resolve it.
  2. Last reception – emotions , especially humor. If the viewer is emotionally involved, he will remember the meaning of the video.

But there is also a danger: sometimes a person is so carried away by the plot that he forgets what was advertised.

What businesses need neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is needed by everyone who works with a wide consumer market. Anyone who produces goods or services in large quantities. It doesn’t matter if it’s grocery, clothing, banking or insurance.

In these markets, there is very tough competition, and you need to fight for your buyer, reach out to him, create promotional materials that will bring him to you.

Why don’t they trust neuromarketing in Russia?

When any new story emerges, a lot of foam forms around it.We add the prefix “neuro” to anything, much of this has nothing to do with “neuro”. There are companies on the market that are engaged in neuromarketing without the necessary competencies.

Another reason is the belief in magic. Business comes and asks: “You have a magic wand, wave it, let sales skyrocket.” They say: “How will this increase sales? You tell us directly as a percentage. ”

But sales depend not only on our work, they depend on many factors.A creative agency can work very well, we can work very well – and we get good material that is absolutely consistent with the brand. But if it is placed incorrectly, in the wrong channels, it will not reach the end customer.

Well, and then this is a normal story, when people have a fear of something new, especially of something that they do not understand.

When will neuromarketing be popular in Russia?

He is still popular now.

7 years ago I knew all the companies in Russia, all the leaders personally, we could be counted on one hand.And now there are a lot of startups that are developing various neuromarketing technologies.

Manufacturers of goods and services, retail are showing more and more interest. There are many lectures about neuromarketing, many books, people are interested and are trying to figure it out.


According to global forecasts, neuromarketing technologies will reach early maturity by 2021-2023. This means that no qualitative research without objective measurements will simply not be carried out – and rightly so.

In addition, the technologies themselves will change, some research will become easier and cheaper. Cameras on computers will improve, and some tasks can be solved without eye tracking.

In general, neurotechnologies are being actively introduced into life now. In the work of HRs, for example. During the coronavirus, a huge number of people switched to telecommuting. How to evaluate the effectiveness of their work? How to find out what happens to people when working remotely? The majority noticed that at first the distance is fun and great, and then the enthusiasm fades away.Hypothetically, you can connect a camera, read the reaction speed, intensity, engagement – and decide whether a person is able to work from home all the time.

Or VR. It will be more convenient and cheaper for stores to do some things in VR: work with the display of goods, design behavioral effects. The main thing is that the space in VR is of such a high quality that the respondents forget that they are in an artificial world. Therefore, today one of the important questions facing researchers is whether people behave in the same way in a real store and in a virtual one? According to our hypothesis – in different ways.We are currently checking it, and if the actions of people are statistically significantly different, then it will be necessary to introduce correction factors that take into account this difference. But first you need to know them.

In general, neurotechnologies are just beginning to develop. Everyone is trying to understand how we make decisions, what’s going on in our head. The market related to neurotechnology will grow.

90,000 Cognitive dissonance: what is it, examples of how to recognize, how to overcome :: Health :: RBC Style

“I have a cognitive dissonance,” we hear in any description of the discrepancy between expectation and reality.This term has already become so widely used that not everyone thinks about its true meaning. Let’s figure it out.

The author of the article is Angelina Duka, Ph.D. in Psychology, cognitive-behavioral psychologist, specialist in the recruiting service for psychologists Alter

What is cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is an internal conflict that occurs in a person when conflicting beliefs collide.This dissonance creates a feeling of tension; a person experiences unpleasant emotions: anxiety, anger, shame, guilt – and will seek to get rid of discomfort in different ways. The concept of “cognitive dissonance” came to us from social psychology.

Theory of cognitive dissonance

The concept of cognitive dissonance was first introduced by social psychologist Leon Festinger. He suggested that when there are conflicting beliefs, people will experience emotional discomfort.In his study of belief in rumor, Festinger concluded that people always strive for an inner balance between personal motives that determine their behavior and information received from the outside. Festinger’s theory describes how people try to rationalize their behavior. Dissonance occurs when a person is simultaneously faced with two incompatible, but equally significant judgments – cognitions. What it is? Sometimes cognitions mean thoughts, but in fact this concept is much broader: thoughts, ideas, opinions, value judgments should be included here.In some situations, they provide mental stability, protecting us from intense experiences. However, sometimes this protection is achieved in a peculiar way – through self-deception.

Does everyone experience cognitive dissonance the same way? No. Different people have different tolerances for uncertainty, so the degree of dissonance experienced will differ in intensity. The strength of dissonance is also influenced by how strongly personal value beliefs are affected.

Shot from the TV series “Queen’s Stroke”

© Kinopoisk

Why cognitive dissonance occurs

Researchers in the field of social behavior Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson suggested that the mental activity of any person is largely determined by two principles that explain the irrationality of certain actions.

Principle of thinking stereotypes

Our brain reduces costs where possible. We strive to preserve the so-called cognitive energy, reducing its consumption to a minimum and using thinking stereotypes wherever possible. This principle has both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, we, for example, create algorithms for solving typical problems and thereby simplify our work. On the other hand, in order to simplify complex problems, we often choose not a well-grounded conclusion, but one that does not require deep comprehension.Figuratively speaking, we are looking for keys not where we lost, but where it is brighter.

Critical thinking requires additional resources in the same way that breaking any formed habit requires an effort. Ignoring a comprehensive assessment of the situation, some repeat past mistakes many times and put themselves in a state of exhausting stress.

The principle of rationalizing one’s behavior, or the principle of self-explanation

It is common for any of us to give our actions a rationale so that they seem logical to ourselves and to our environment.Self-explanation acts as a guideline, as an ideological basis: “I am doing this because …” – everyone will have their own continuation of the phrase. A person must perceive his own behavior as reasonable and understandable – otherwise there is a threat to the integrity of his “I”. However, the way we explain our actions does not always correspond to reality: very often, trying to calm ourselves down, we wishful thinking through self-deception and rationalization.

These principles illustrate how a person rationalizes their behavior to avoid discomfort.

Still from the film “1 + 1”

© Kinopoisk

Examples of cognitive dissonance

Let’s look at a simple example of how you can deal with cognitive dissonance. When choosing, say, a car, we compare different models and make a choice in favor of one of them. We are pleased with the purchase and believe we made the best possible choice.If, after buying a car, we come across information that casts doubt on the correctness of our decision, we will ignore it, even if it is true. Or we will justify ourselves by saying, “My car is still better.” Or, speaking about other machines, we will recall examples of how bad they are in operation, look for confirmation on the forums, among friends. Thus, we strive to protect ourselves from discomfort and maintain a positive attitude towards ourselves.At the same time, finding information that confirms the correctness of our choice, we will certainly notice it and experience positive emotions, since we will unconsciously perceive it as speaking in favor of our positive self-image.

Russian classical literature is full of examples of cognitive dissonance when the hero makes a difficult choice. So, Sholokhov in “Quiet Don” through the prism of the families of Melekhovs, Korshunovs and other characters shows how individuals make difficult decisions at critical moments and cope with cognitive dissonance.

How to overcome cognitive dissonance

Using the example of typical patterns of behavior, you can understand how to cope with the discomfort from cognitive dissonance.

Avoiding or devaluing factual information

This strategy helps people to continue to maintain behaviors with which they do not fully agree (for example: I know that smoking is harmful, but I continue to do so). To reduce cognitive dissonance, a person can restrict access to new information that does not correspond to his beliefs, devalue these facts, perceiving them as false, avoid studying additional sources and situations in which one may encounter alternative points of view.


Justification of oneself, an attempt to make sure that there is no internal conflict. People begin to seek support from those who share similar views, or try to convince others that the new information is inaccurate; looking for ways to justify behavior that is contrary to their beliefs. Unfortunately, often behind explanations that seem rational to us, there are in fact irrational beliefs that contain logical errors that are not supported by facts, and this causes us suffering.

Changing your behavior

Discomfort can push a person to change their behavior so that actions are consistent with their beliefs. As a result of cognitive dissonance, many people are faced with a conflict of values, resolving which they can bring positive changes in their lives, approach the ideal according to which they want to live – this is the case when cognitive dissonance can have a positive impact. For example, a person eats a lot of sugary, fatty foods every day, while he is at risk of diabetes and he is aware of the consequences.Experiencing discomfort from cognitive dissonance, he ultimately changes behavior: he adjusts his diet, thereby taking a step towards his value – health.

Still from the film “Bridget Jones’s Diary”

© Kinopoisk

Development of critical thinking

It is possible to establish the truth by analyzing the arguments of each side of cognitive dissonance.

For this it is necessary to answer the question, is it logical to think so, what is the logic of judgments.

Then, using empirical facts, you should weigh the two points of view and ask yourself:

  • which proves my point;
  • which refutes it;
  • what evidence (facts, arguments) can be given in favor of the opposite point of view;
  • what I get when I think so;
  • Do my thoughts help me get what I’m aiming for?

As you might guess, the first two strategies are not very productive – they may bring temporary relief, but not relieve discomfort.The third and fourth models are the most constructive: here the internal conflict is really resolved.

So, cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon that everyone encounters. He influences our decisions in a wide variety of areas. And while cognitive dissonance may seem like a negative effect of thinking, it can help us grow and change for the better, pushing us to do things that align with our values.

90,000 Cognitive Distortion: Brain Illusions | Marketing Blog

Before introducing cognitive dissonance and its principles of impact on consumers into a content marketing strategy, it is important to understand that, faced with distortions in their minds, customers will want to do something immediately in order to reduce internal conflict. which they are experiencing. The task of any marketer is to manage the actions of consumers at the point of their contact with a brand or its services using cognitive biases.

Source: infographer.ru

Wikipedia lists 175 cognitive biases. Of course, this is not a complete list of the ways in which our brain deceives itself. Such deception is not at all complicated, because a significant part of a person’s mental processes occurs without being reflected in consciousness. Thus, it becomes possible to refer directly to these basic processes without touching the conscious part.

In working with the general public, professionals use methods to bypass the censorship mechanism, which filters information from the outside world in the brain. For example, if you strengthen information emotionally, then a verbal or non-verbal message will more easily pass through the built-in filters of consciousness and will remain in the memory of the information consumer for a long time.

In working with the general public, professionals use methods to bypass the censorship mechanism, which filters information from the outside world in the brain.For example, if you strengthen information emotionally, then a verbal or non-verbal message will more easily pass through the built-in filters of consciousness and will remain in the memory of the information consumer for a long time.

Four thematic groups of cognitive biases

The large list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia is classified rather vaguely. There are four thematic groups:

  • Behavior and decision-making distortions.
  • Distortions related to probabilities and stereotypes.
  • Socially caused distortions.
  • Distortion due to memory errors.

Repeated repetition of a lie increases the likelihood that it will be believed

This classification does not make it possible to clearly understand the reasons for these distortions. That is, it is not entirely clear from the classification which methods can be used to exploit various cognitive distortions, why they arise. In addition, many distortions are duplicated in the list under different names.

There is another way to classify distortions, more specifically focusing on the cause of the failure in thinking, which causes an incorrect perception of reality. If we classify them by reason, then the distortions can also be divided into four groups, but now they become more logical and understandable.

Four problems that cause cognitive biases

  1. Too much information.
  2. Not enough meaning (ambiguity).
  3. The need to act quickly.
  4. Filtering information for memorization: the brain always prefers to memorize a simpler and clearer concept, rather than a complex and ambiguous one. Even if the second concept is more correct and objective.

Perhaps of particular interest is the first group of distortions associated with an overabundance of information. Moreover, the rest of the groups are conceptually related to it. It seems that instant filtering, censorship and selection of information for memorization is the main problem that we face in the modern era, when the amount of information is too great.Because of this, there is probably most of the cognitive distortions and incorrect perception of the surrounding reality.

If you constantly think about one topic, then more often you pay attention to news on this topic

The first group can be divided into five subgroups

  1. We notice things that have already become entrenched in our memory or are often repeated. This is a large group of distortions that is often exploited on television. Repeated repetition of the same thing practically guarantees that a person will overlook a detail that is mentioned in passing only once.In addition, repeating a lie over and over increases the likelihood that it will be believed.
  • The availability heuristic is an estimate as more likely of what is more available in memory.
  • Attention bias – dependence of human perception on repetitive thoughts. If you constantly think about one topic, then more often you pay attention to news on this topic.
  • Truth Illusion Effect – The tendency to believe that information is true if we have heard it many times.
  • Object Familiarity Effect – The tendency for people to express unwarranted sympathy for an object just because they are familiar with it.
  • Forgetting without context – Difficulty recalling information in the absence of context (associated memories). And vice versa, meeting with a clue immediately pulls the whole chain of memories. For example, if you were on vacation and met a rare car there, then meeting with such a car many years later will pull from your memory a chain of “forgotten” memories of the vacation.The effect also works on an emotional level: some information is easier to extract from memory if you evoke “anchor” emotions that are contextually related to this information.
  • The frequency illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon , – immediately after a person has learned about a new thing or idea, it seems to him that it begins to appear everywhere. It happens due to the fact that after a person has learned about something new, his consciousness begins to follow the mentions, as a result of which you notice it wherever it is.Each appearance of a thing only reinforces the confidence of consciousness that it began to appear everywhere.
  • Empathy Gap – a phenomenon when a person underestimates the influence of visceral factors on their behavior. These factors include hunger, thirst, sex drive, drug (alcohol) cravings, physical pain, and intense emotions. From the outside it seems that the person is acting impulsively, irrationally, out of control. A person himself can find a “rational” explanation for his actions, ignoring their true subconscious reason.
  • Underestimating inaction – People’s tendency to underestimate the consequences of inaction versus action with a similar outcome. An example of such a phenomenon is anti-vaccination, when parents prefer the risk of complications from the disease to the risk of complications from the vaccine, although the risk of getting sick is much higher than the risk of complications from the vaccine.
  • Base Percent Error – The person ignores the general frequency of the event and focuses on specific information.Example: breathalyzers show erroneous intoxication in 5% of cases, but there are no false negative responses. The policeman stops the driver and checks him with a breathalyzer. The device shows that the driver is drunk. Question: what is the roughly the likelihood that the driver is actually drunk?
  1. People tend to notice and remember special, whimsical and funny images rather than not whimsical or funny. In other words, the brain exaggerates the importance of unusual or surprising information.On the other hand, we tend to ignore information that seems trivial or expected.
  • Restorff effect (isolation effect) – in a series of similar objects, the one that stands out from the others is easier to remember. For example, a number is easier to remember in a series of letters (vtsu5kekvr), and not in a series of other numbers (35856896).
  • The effect of the superiority of the picture – pictures are easier to remember than words. The effect has been confirmed by numerous scientific experiments.
  • The effect of self-reference – the tendency of people to encode information in memory in different ways, depending on how much it affects the person personally. Cognitive neuroscientists have identified specific areas in the prefrontal cortex, median structures, and parietal lobe that are triggered when a person believes that information affects him personally. The effect of self-reference has many manifestations. For example, a person remembers information much better if it concerns him personally.In advertising, a person perceives information better if it is advertised by people similar to him. A person remembers birthdays that are close in time to his own birthday better. Slender women perceive the images of other slender women and models better than obese women.
  • Bias towards negative – things of a negative nature, even with equal strength, are perceived by a person more strongly than things of a positive nature. This applies to thoughts, emotions, social relationships, painful / traumatic events, etc.Therefore, the television news audience pays more attention to negative news rather than positive events. The negative is perceived brighter, more clearly and well remembered. The effect is also manifested in the perception of other people: one “negative” characteristic of a person is capable of erasing many of his positive features in perception. Thus, a person with no positive traits at all (for example, a faceless politician who has just appeared) has an advantage over competitors who have many positive traits and one negative (that is, over almost any other politician).In decision making and management, this cognitive bias greatly influences human behavior. Businessmen tend to minimize profits in order to ensure that there are no losses. Any short-term loss is perceived extremely emotionally, even if it does not objectively affect the total monthly / annual profit. For example, in the stock market, people are willing to significantly increase their risks and continue investing in a falling security in order to average the position and get out of a loss, although rational behavior would be to simply fix the loss and get out of the security.This is an irrational desire to “win back”. Interestingly, some scientific studies show that this cognitive bias disappears with age. Moreover, people in adulthood sometimes even experience the opposite cognitive distortion – a bias towards the positive. That is, older people take negative information for granted and do not react to it, but they perceive positive information more strongly.

One “negative” characteristic of a person is capable of crossing out many of his positive traits in perception.

  1. People tend to notice changes.At the same time, the brain incorrectly evaluates the value of new information in the context of the direction of change (positive / negative), rather than objectively overestimating new information regardless of the previous one.
  • Anchoring effect is a cognitive distortion of the estimate of numerical values ​​with a bias towards the initial approximation. The effect is used by retail chains, indicating the price of several pieces of the product, even in the absence of a quantity discount. Or online sites that offer to donate an arbitrary amount, but provide an example of a larger donation.Studies have shown that by tying people to the example of a large donation, the average amount of arbitrary donations turns out to be higher than without pegging.
  • Money illusion – the tendency of people to perceive the nominal value of money, not its real value. Cognitive bias is expressed in the fact that people do not fully understand how the real value of money changes every day. Because of this, they do not adequately perceive reality, including changes in nominal prices for goods, inflation.For example, many do not understand that when the exchange rate of the dollar against the ruble changes, their wages have actually decreased de facto while maintaining their nominal value in rubles. Authorities can encourage this cognitive bias in citizens with statements like, “Don’t watch the dollar,” and so on.
  • The framing effect is the phenomenon of different reactions to the same choice, depending on how it is presented: as a positive or negative choice. The glass can be half empty or half full.The choice is the same, but it is perceived differently. For example, penalties for tardiness work more effectively on people than bonuses for timely actions (obviously, the cognitive bias “bias towards the negative” is also at work here). Research in the judicial system has shown that defendants are more likely to give confessions if they are presented as the first step towards their subsequent release after imprisonment, and not as the last step in a free life before the start of imprisonment.
  • Weber-Fechner Law – an empirical psychophysiological law that the intensity of the sensation of something is directly proportional to the logarithm of the stimulus intensity.For example, a chandelier with eight bulbs mistakenly appears to be as much brighter than a four-bulb chandelier as a four-bulb chandelier is brighter than a two-bulb chandelier.
  • Conservatism (in a psychological sense) – cognitive distortion of new information if it contradicts the established beliefs of a person.

Penalties for being late act on people more effectively than a bonus for timely action

Actually, the cognitive distortion “conservatism” (in psychology) can be categorized as a whole separate category

  1. People are attracted by information that confirms them beliefs.This is a really big and important category. It also has to do with the way to filter new data. If there is a lot of information around, then the person chooses basically the one that confirms his opinion.
  • Propensity to confirm one’s point of view .
  • Distortion in the perception of the choice made – the tendency to retroactively attribute positive qualities to the object or action that the person has chosen. In hindsight, there are “rational” reasons why a person made this choice.
  • Selective perception – the tendency of people to pay attention to those elements of the environment that are consistent with their expectations, and ignore the rest.
  • The Ostrich Effect is an attempt to ignore the negative information associated with the choice made.
  1. People tend to notice mistakes in others better than in themselves. Even take this list of cognitive biases. It seems that perception distortions are more likely to be present in others than in you personally.
  • Blind Spot Bias – Recognizing perceptual distortions in other people, not yourself.
  • Naive cynicism – cognitive distortion, a form of psychological selfishness, when a person naively expects more selfish behavior from others than he really is. The line of reasoning of naive cynicism is as follows: “I have no prejudices – If you disagree with me, then you have prejudices.”Your intentions / actions reflect your selfish biases.” Naive cynicism opposes the opposite cognitive distortion – naive realism.
  • Naive realism – a person’s tendency to believe that we objectively see the world around us as it is. People who disagree are perceived as uninformed, irrational, or prejudiced. According to naive scientific realism, a theory recognized by the scientific community has absolute truth, that is, it gives a complete and accurate image of the described system of objects.

I have no biases – If you disagree with me, then you have biases

This classification of cognitive biases associated with an overabundance of information seems more logical than Wikipedia. At least, the main causes of distortion are immediately visible. Although this classification still remains rather arbitrary, because many distortions in consciousness are explained not by one, but by several reasons at once.

Original article at the link.

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Cognitive Dissonance – Design and Graphics News

Striving for consistency between attitudes, views and beliefs.

People strive for harmony in relationships, views and beliefs. Cognitive dissonance is a state of mental discomfort caused by a contradiction in attitudes, attitudes and beliefs (that is, a person’s cognitions, or knowledge). If two elements of cognition (that is, two cognitive elements) are in agreement with each other, this is called consonance (correspondence). If two cognitive elements are in conflict with each other, this is called dissonance (inconsistency), which causes a state of discomfort in a person.

People weaken cognitive dissonance in one of three ways: by reducing the importance of cognitive elements that are in conflict; by adding consistent (consonant) cognitive elements or by removing (changing) dissonant, that is, conflicting cognitive elements. When advertising companies convince a person that buying and giving diamonds proves his love, they seek to induce a cognitive dissonance in consumers (that is, a conflict between the love that one person has for another and external pressure: love requires proof in the form of diamonds ).To mitigate the emerging contradiction, a person can reduce the importance of the dissonant cognitive element (convincing themselves that the diamond is just a mineral), add a consonant cognitive element (realize that advertisers are trying to manipulate it), or remove / change the dissonant cognitive elements (show their love to another person in any other way other than buying diamonds).

When there are stimuli in the situation, the power of the stimulus influences decision making. If a person is offered minor stimuli to perform an unpleasant task, they reduce the dissonance by altering the dissonant cognitive element (for example, “okay, I’ll do this task because I like it”).If strong incentives are offered to perform an unpleasant task, the person reduces the dissonance by adding a consonant cognitive element (for example, “okay, I’ll do this task because I’ll be well paid”). When incentives are weak, people tend to change their behavior to something that they think will ease the dissonance . When incentives are strong, people, while maintaining their original beliefs, reduce dissonance by justifying their participation with the expected reward. Usually it takes a little incentive for a person to reconsider their attitude towards an idea or work that is not interesting to them.Any stimulus weaker than this decreases, rather than increases, the likelihood of a change in attitudes and beliefs – this critical point is called the point of minimum impact.

Consider cognitive dissonance in ad and marketing campaign designs and in any other context where pressure and persuasive arguments are critical. Use consonant (consistent) and dissonant (conflicting) information to influence beliefs. Encourage people to invest their time, attention, and participation to create dissonant cognitive elements, and then suggest simple, quick-acting mechanisms to reduce the dissonance.If you provide compensation to a consumer in exchange for changing their behavior in a direction favorable to you, use the minimum compensation.

The Point of Minimum Impact is the optimal stimulus required to change a person’s behavior and attitudes. Incentives exceeding this level continue to change behavior, but can no longer change attitudes.

Perhaps the most successful use of cognitive dissonance for advertising purposes is provider AOL’s campaign to provide free hours on CD.People spent a lot of time and effort creating mailboxes, accounts, passwords, etc. The more time and effort invested, the more cognitive dissonance manifested itself after it ended. Since the subscription fee was minimal, the only way to ease the dissonance for most people was to continue working with a provider with whom they have positive emotions.

90,000 Cognitive Dissonance Is … What is Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance (from the English.words: cognitive – “ cognitive ” and dissonance – “ lack of harmony “) – a state of an individual characterized by a collision in his mind of conflicting knowledge, beliefs, behavioral attitudes regarding an object or phenomenon, in which from the existence of one element, the denial of the other follows, and the associated with this discrepancy a feeling of psychological discomfort.

Literally, this means: “the lack of harmony in cognition, or in normal translation – the discrepancy between what was received and what was expected.”

The concept of “cognitive dissonance” was first introduced by Leon Festinger in 1957.

Theory of cognitive dissonance

The theory of cognitive dissonance was proposed by Leon Festinger in 1957. It explains the conflict situations that often arise “in the cognitive structure of one person” [1] . The theory aims to explain and investigate the state of cognitive dissonance that occurs in a person as a reaction to a certain situation, actions of individuals or the whole

Main hypotheses of the theory

Leon Festinger formulates two main hypotheses of his theory:

  1. In the event of dissonance, the individual will try with all his might to reduce the degree of inconsistency between his two attitudes, trying to achieve consonance (conformity).This is due to the fact that dissonance gives rise to “psychological discomfort” [2] .
  2. The second hypothesis, emphasizing the first, says that, in an effort to reduce the discomfort that has arisen, the individual will try to avoid situations in which the discomfort may increase.

Occurrence of dissonance

Dissonance can appear for various reasons [2] :

  • due to a logical inconsistency;
  • “for cultural reasons”;
  • in the event that an individual opinion is part of a wider opinion;
  • due to the inconsistency of past experience with the present situation.

Cognitive dissonance arises from the discrepancy between the two “cognitions” (or “knowledge”) of the individual. An individual, having information on any issue, is forced to neglect it when making a decision. As a result, there is a discrepancy (“dissonance”) between a person’s attitudes and his real actions.

As a result of such behavior, there is a change in certain (which the situation affects in one way or another) a person’s attitudes, and this change can be justified on the basis that it is vitally important for a person to maintain the consistency of his knowledge [3] .

Therefore, people are ready to justify their delusions: a person who has committed a misconduct or mistake tends to justify himself in thoughts, gradually shifting his beliefs about what happened in the direction that what happened is actually not so terrible. Thus, the individual “regulates” his thinking in order to reduce the conflict within himself [3] .

Degree of dissonance

In various situations that arise in everyday life, dissonance can increase or decrease – it all depends on the problem that a person faces.

So, the degree of dissonance will be minimal if a person, for example, gives money on the street to a beggar who (apparently) does not really need alms. On the contrary, the degree of dissonance will increase many times, if a person is to have a serious exam, and he does not try to prepare for it [2] .

Dissonance can (and does) arise in any situation when a person has to make a choice. Moreover, the degree of dissonance will grow depending on how important this choice is for the individual…

Dissonance reduction

It is clear that the existence of dissonance, regardless of the degree of its strength, forces a person to get rid of it completely, and if for some reason this is still impossible to do, then significantly reduce it. To reduce dissonance, a person can resort to four methods:

  1. change your behavior;
  2. change “cognition”, that is, convince yourself otherwise;
  3. Filter incoming information regarding a given issue or problem.
  4. development of the first way: apply the criterion of truth to the information received, admit your mistakes and act in accordance with a new, more complete and clear understanding of the problem.

Let us explain this with a specific example. For example, a person is a heavy smoker. He receives information about the dangers of smoking – from a doctor, a friend, from a newspaper or from another source. In accordance with the information received, he will either change his behavior – that is, quit smoking, because he is convinced that it is too harmful for his health.Or he may deny that smoking is harmful to his body, try, for example, to find some information that smoking can be to some extent “useful” (for example, while he smokes, he does not gain excess weight, as it happens when a person quits smoking), and thereby reduce the importance of negative information. This reduces the dissonance between his knowledge and actions. In the third case, he will try to avoid any information that emphasizes the harm of smoking [1] [2] .

Prevention and avoidance of dissonance

In some cases, an individual can prevent the appearance of dissonance and, as a result, internal discomfort by trying to avoid any negative information regarding his problem. If the dissonance has already arisen, then the individual can avoid its amplification by adding one or more cognitive elements “to the cognitive scheme” [2] instead of the existing negative element (which generates dissonance).Thus, the individual will be interested in finding such information that would approve his choice (his decision) and, in the end, would weaken or completely eliminate dissonance, while avoiding sources of information that would increase it. However, such frequent behavior of an individual can lead to negative consequences: a person may develop a fear of dissonance or prejudice, which is a dangerous factor affecting the individual’s worldview [2] .

A relationship of inconsistency (dissonance) may exist between two (or more) cognitive elements.When dissonance occurs, the individual seeks to reduce its degree, avoid or get rid of it completely. This striving is justified by the fact that a person sets as his goal a change in his behavior, the search for new information regarding a situation or an object that “generated dissonance” [2] .

It is quite understandable that it is much easier for a person to agree with the existing state of affairs by correcting his internal attitudes according to the current situation, instead of continuing to torment himself with the question of whether he did the right thing.Dissonance often arises as a consequence of important decisions. The choice of two equally tempting alternatives is not easy for a person, however, having finally made this choice, a person often begins to feel “discordant cognitions” [3] , that is, the positive aspects of the option he refused, and not very positive features what he agreed with. To suppress (weaken) dissonance, a person tries with all his might to exaggerate the significance of his decision, while at the same time minimizing the importance of the rejected one.As a consequence, the other alternative loses all attractiveness in his eyes [3] .


  1. 1 2 Andreeva G.M. Psychology of social cognition: Textbook. manual for university students. / Under. ed. E. M. Harlanova. – 3rd ed., Rev. and add. – M .: Aspect Press, 2005 .– 303 p.
  2. 1 2 3 4 906 906 906

    0 9000 Festinger L.Cognitive dissonance theory. / Per. from English A. Anistratenko, I. Znaesheva. – SPb .: Juventa, 1999 .– 318 p., Ill.

  3. 1 2 3 4 D. Myers Social Psychology. / Per. from English Z. Zamchuk; Head ed. count L. Vinokurov. – 7th ed. – SPb .: Peter, 2006 .– 794 p .: ill. (Series “Masters of Psychology”).

See also


90,000 What is “cognitive dissonance” and “frustration”.In simple words, using the example of well-known advertising. | It’s clear. It’s clear.

A few months ago there was a funny advertisement for a famous yellow bank. Not what you think you are. Another bank, imported, but also yellow. Let’s call this video “From twenty …”. Good sense of humor and great acting. I always watch it with interest. A storm of emotions overwhelms the main character, it is interesting to watch him.

Using the example of this advertisement, one can clearly explain the meaning of the psychological terms “cognitive dissonance” and “frustration”.

Let me remind you that according to the plot, a young man of about 20 years old meets for the first time a lady “from twenty” in a cafe (if you wish, the video can be easily found on the net). Obviously, the meeting takes place after a long correspondence on social networks or on a dating site. For some reason, there was no exchange of original photographs, so each participant has a very vague idea of ​​the appearance of a partner. However, each of the participants in the meeting, for a long time of correspondence, of course, formed an image of a partner in his mind.

So, a long-awaited meeting! What happens at this moment? The lady takes the initiative and says – “I just imagined you like that!” It can be seen from her face that her expectations were met and she is satisfied with what she saw!



And what is our main character ?! On his face there is a grimace of confusion, surprise and horror at the same time. The image of the “lady of the heart” he created in his mind, with whom he corresponded, absolutely does not correspond to what he saw! He reads aloud the personal data on the partner’s page from the screen of his smartphone “modest… graceful … “, while looking at her questioningly, as if comparing what was written and seen …

and with each new line of the questionnaire, surprise and horror seizes him more and more. The apogee is the line of the questionnaire with age. “Twenty years ?!” – says our hero. He is completely suppressed …

“Cognitive dissonance.” This cannot be! … as the hero of the video says.

“Cognitive dissonance.” This cannot be!. .. as the hero of the video would say ..

  • The image of a girl drawn by him in his mind is absolutely inconsistent with reality! This is a vivid example of “cognitive dissonance” .
  • But the process of disappointment and collapse of hopes is the phenomenon of “frustration” . Pink dreams are broken on the dark rocks of reality. You can see how this happens from the hero’s face. At some point, he simply freezes in complete confusion and bewilderment. This is the peak of “frustration”!

The main character is depressed and confused.