Commenced in January 2007
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Is Cognitive Dissonance an Intrinsic Property of the Human Mind? An Experimental Solution to a Half-Century Debate

Authors: Álvaro Machado Dias, Eduardo Oda, Henrique Teruo Akiba, Leo Arruda, Luiz Felipe Bruder


Cognitive Dissonance can be conceived both as a concept related to the tendency to avoid internal contradictions in certain situations, and as a higher order theory about information processing in the human mind. In the last decades, this last sense has been strongly surpassed by the former, as nearly all experiment on the matter discuss cognitive dissonance as an output of motivational contradictions. In that sense, the question remains: is cognitive dissonance a process intrinsically associated with the way that the mind processes information, or is it caused by such specific contradictions? Objective: To evaluate the effects of cognitive dissonance in the absence of rewards or any mechanisms to manipulate motivation. Method: To solve this question, we introduce a new task, the hypothetical social arrays paradigm, which was applied to 50 undergraduate students. Results: Our findings support the perspective that the human mind shows a tendency to avoid internal dissonance even when there are no rewards or punishment involved. Moreover, our findings also suggest that this principle works outside the conscious level.

Keywords: Cognitive Dissonance, Cognitive Psychology, Information Processing.

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