Persuasion: The cognitive dissonance theory

By 3 Febrero, 2014(English)

During the last months, I faced several decisions that would determine how this year was going to be like. I had lived in my own last summer, when I did an internship in Madrid, but this was completely different: I would live an entire semester abroad, in the University of Texas at Austin. Therefore, choosing an adequate dorm or apartment was important and I tried to compare some of them. After realizing that my choice was actually not as good as advertised, I unconsciously started trying to reduce that dissonance. But the behavior that will be described leads to the question: how can laziness affect our behavior and help reduce dissonances?

I arrived to Austin on January 5th. An almost empty room, which barely had some furniture and with an added constant noise of the air conditioning system. By that time it was christmas holiday and there was no people there; after some days and hearing some friends’ experiences in West Campus I decided to change my room and try in other place. This was a radical reaction: I was altering my behavior because there was a huge dissonance and I did not feel alright with my choice. But after looking some offers and thinking about the tedious process that I was starting, suddenly my room started to look better.After thinking deeply about the situation, I decided to give it a try and stay some more days, or at least a whole week, in my room so I could get used to it and see if it improved.

So, instead of altering my behavior leaving my room I did other things to change my way of seeing them, in order to reduce the dissonance. Some of my actions included communicating with some friends, to see that their choices also had their own disadvantages; and spread apart the alternatives by giving more importance to some features of the dorm that I had chosen (the cafeteria buffet food was actually good and I had an unlimited plan, so this option was supposed to be better than the other one). After waiting one week, the dorm started to be filled of people and everything seemed more normal. But did laziness intervened in the process? Could bureaucracy have influenced the decision of not changing my room? It seems that the impact must be big to make you change your decision and alter your behavior. If there are other options to convince yourself that your choice was a good one, many people try to persuade themselves rather than acting in other way or assuming that they made a mistake. Or maybe it is harder to complain when you have a ten-person queue in front of you, and you recur to other options to reduce your dissonance than changing your behaviour.

Leave a Reply