Capstone: Cognitive Consistency

During this campaign, one of my main objectives will be persuading the public to adopt new techniques for disposing of medications. One of the persuasion tactics is the cognitive dissonance theory and its connection to cognitive consistency.

People like to appear consistent in their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and they will take action to avoid inconsistencies. Consistency is highly valued in society and in many instances offers a beneficial approach to life. Consistent thinking also provides a mental shortcut to people as they go through daily life. How then does this go along with persuasion?

Once people have made a commitment, they will generally adapt to accommodate that commitment, even if other opportunities arise. When planning my campaign, I must incorporate tactics that will lead people to change their attitudes/behavior. There are 4 major strategies in which I can accomplish my goal. 

The first strategy is to design a message that will help my audience avoid inconsistency. The second strategy is to design a message that will make people feel dissonance. The purpose behind this is to encourage them to do something new such as begin disposing of medication properly. The third strategy is to design a message to help people maintain their consistencies by telling them that something they are already doing is good. After making the commitment, the commitment must be reinforced periodically or the change in behavior will not last. The last strategy is to get people to make a verbal commitment about their attitudes. This is often used as a sales tactic. In my case, I would ask the consumer if he/she cares about the environment. Then I would tell them that disposing of medication properly is helping the environment.

Message design is very important to a successful campaign. If messages are not crafted properly, the audience may not receive the key messages of the campaign. Cognitive consistency is one of the many persuasion tactics that must be taken into consideration when crafting message content.

To find the full article search for the following citation:

Gawronski, B. (2012). Back to the future of dissonance theory: Cognitive consistency as a core motive. Social Cognition, 30(6), 652.


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