Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a highly influential theory in social psychology developed by Leon Festinger, published as A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance in 1957. While developing his theory, he took into account a religious cult that had predicted the end of the world. A Chicago housewife identified by the pseudonym Mariam Keech had received messages via automatic writing in which God revealed that before dawn on December 21, 1955, the earth would be destroyed by a great flood. Keech and other faithful would be saved by a spacecraft sent by God to take them safely to the planet Clarion. Cognitive dissonance’s relevance to the sociology of religion is largely based upon the application of cognitive dissonance theory by Festinger and his colleagues to a study of ...

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