When a person is confronted simultaneously with two pieces of information that he considers incompatible, he systematically finds himself in a state of discomfort. This is cognitive dissonance. This incompatible information is usually related to his thinking patterns, opinions, beliefs and behaviors.
The notion of cognitive dissonance is very important in marketing. Indeed, this distortion has a significant impact on consumer behavior. When faced with discomfort due to dissonance, consumers can either :
- overestimate the characteristics and the expected and real performances of the product. This overstatement is based on their interpretation of the two pieces of information as being incompatible,
- systematically denigrate the characteristics of the product compared to that of competitors.
Cognitive dissonance or distortion is a social psychology theory written in the 1950s by Leon Festiger. It is opposed to the notion of positive consonance, which emphasizes the harmony of actions and thoughts. While positive consonance creates well-being, because we are in agreement with ourselves, cognitive distortion favors a real malaise.