Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Thomas R. Zentall, Cognitive dissonance or contrast?


This commentary on Zentall’s target article focuses primarily on clarifying some postulates and variables in cognitive dissonance theory. I discuss the adaptive motivational functions of dissonance arousal and dissonance reduction, and attempt to clarify some past dissonance experiments and to tease apart a dissonance theory and contrast explanation of effort-justification-type effects. The evidence and arguments reviewed here support the explanatory power of cognitive dissonance theory in a wide variety of circumstances in human and nonhuman animals, but they depend on first defining concepts such as “cognitions” quite broadly, as Festinger did when he originally proposed the theory.

Author Biography

Eddie Harmon-Jones, Professor of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, studies the effects of emotions on attention and other cognitive processes, the role of emotion and motivation in aggressive and pro-social behaviour, and the antecedents and consequences of discrepancies between cognitions (cognitive dissonance theory).