Cognitive consistency theory encompasses a broad group of theoretical statements whose central core is that people prefer consonance among their cognitions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These theories seek to explain individuals' discomfort with inconsistency in their social lives. Although theories of cognitive consistency initially focused on individuals as the unit of analysis, research has recently shown that cognitive consistency is a central component of intergroup and intragroup relationships as well. This entry looks at a precursor theory and then examines the development of cognitive consistency theory and its application to both groups and intergroup processes.

Balance Theory

Most influential of the early cognitive consistency models was Fritz Heider's balance theory. The principle of psychological balance can be applied to any set of cognitions, but it is ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles