I remember sitting in my Com Theory class thinking, “This is stupid, I am never going to use this in real life. Who applies and quotes theories in a daily situation?” Turns out, I do, sometimes. I hate that. This one is about Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Stay with me…
In preparation for a presentation to my executive board, I needed to not only show the success social media has provided our company, but also the worth and importance. I was showing the team step-by-step the fact that our target audience has a growing presence on social media. Furthermore, the younger generation (those under 50) are even more involved with social media, especially Facebook. This proved my point that we should absolutely be involved in social media, but the team needed more facts.
There are two parts to this story:
1. We form consumer habits based on our parents’ habits.
2. Habits can change.
These ideas sounded familiar to me so I dug deep in my brain trying to remember where I learned about this in my communication classes and in walked the Cognitive Dissonance Theory.
This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.
Dissonance increases with:
- The importance of the subject to us.
- How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
- Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.
Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions:
- Change our behavior.
- Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
- Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.
So depending on your passion for the idea, you either change your behavior, or keep the behavior. We want to sell our brand and change the behavior of people who might not use our service and instead use a competitor. People who are very passionate about a certain brand are harder to persuade. This might be a person who’s parents used that brand and the entire family swears by it. Someone who uses it just because they picked it up off the shelf is more likely to be persuaded.
I predict that those under 50 are less involved in their brand choices and therefore more likely to be persuaded because they haven’t committed their whole life to doing something one way. If those people under 50 have a stronger presence on Facebook, it seems logical that we should also be on Facebook. We have to go where our demographic is.
We can’t necessarily change the mind of someone who has been going to a competitor for 50 years, but the person who entered the industry last year is likely looking for a place to stick his loyalty. We want it. We need to be present where they are present so that we can change their behavior and create loyal customers. Where are they? ONLINE.
Turns out, school is applicable.