Cognitive Dissonance: How Sellers Change Buyer Confidence Through Marketing

Humans always feel uncomfortable when receiving conflicting information, however, sales gurus have found a way to "creep" into users' minds, making them convince themselves to make decisions. Shop through “Cognitive Dissonance”.

When faith is shaken

Cognitive dissonance is a theory proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957.

Cognitive dissonance is simply understood as discomfort when a person perceives two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas, or values.

Because what is being absorbed is contrary to their inherent beliefs, people are immediately attacked by conflicting thoughts and inner doubts. To get rid of the unpleasant feeling, the brain immediately seeks to resolve the conflict by reassuring itself, "filtering" information in favor of itself, or avoiding exposure to "contradictory" information.

In the famous 1959 experiment, a group of volunteers were locked in a room one by one and performed a variety of “school boring” activities for an hour. At the end of the experiment, the volunteers were "requested" to communicate to the next person (a scientist posing as a volunteer) that the experiment was very interesting, completely contrary to their belief. their existing trust.

Before communicating, the volunteers were divided into 2 groups, one group received only 1 USD "remuneration", while the other group was given up to 20 USD.

True to Festinger's prediction, the group that received 1 USD rated the last activity more interesting. Since they accepted the scientists' offer, the anti-cognitive dissonance regime was turned on in their minds, prompting them to come up with all sorts of excuses to reassure the activity they had just performed.

For the group that received 20 USD, the large amount of money made them no longer feel "discord", losing the motivation to think of a way to calm down for the past hour.

Cognitive Dissonance: How Sellers Change Buyer Confidence Through Marketing

In fact, every time cognitive dissonance appears, the human mind will have 4 different "resolves":

  • Change in cognitive behavior.
  • Make excuses by changing the conflict.
  • Make excuses by adding new awareness.
  • Ignore or deny conflicting information.

For example, if a person is trying to lose weight, but with a delicious cake in front of them, they will begin to "resolve the disagreement" in the following ways:

  • I decided not to eat a piece of cake, this is the last piece.
  • Losing weight is a process, I just finished this piece of cake.
  • There is a piece of cake, after eating, I will exercise tonight.
  • In fact, cakes also do not have too much sugar and calories.

Marketing changes beliefs

Understanding the "discord" in the minds of users, many marketing campaigns have used information as the focus for users to easily "reassurance" themselves and make shopping decisions.

Marketing changes beliefs

For example, in the advertisement above, everyone knows that drinking a lot of beer is bad for health, especially those who are trying to lose weight.

Miller immediately launched the "Miller Lite" product, which guarantees less calories, less carbs, and better taste than Bud Light - the leading light beer brand in the market. From there, the user's mind will quickly reassure that "Miller Lite is low in calories, it's okay to drink a can once in a while."

“Cognitive dissonance” is also the reason why new brands always try to launch advertisements with user endorsements first, or invest a large amount of money to “make” scientific reports. learning benefits the product.

The above steps easily convince users to change their current beliefs to new but seemingly better products & services.

How Sellers Change Buyer Confidence Through Marketing

Without "winged" information to reassure, brands will turn to using celebrities or a humorous ad.

Although "positive" factors do not provide more information for users to resolve disagreements, it will increase viewers' excitement, helping them to happily come up with reasons to convince themselves.

Sales masters

But cognitive dissonance is most successfully used in direct communication.

  • Dat is an up-and-coming businessman, but he still uses a 2-wheeler for his daily work. After knowing the above story, the car salesman immediately shared that not everyone "has the guts" to use a 4-wheeler, and the car is not a financial burden but a motivation for people to run. continue to take the next step in your career.

The above words continuously "consolidated" and resolved disagreements in Dat's mind, helping him quickly reach the decision to buy a car, even with installment payments.

  • Tuan is a family man, he is always proud to see his wife happy. When the couple saw the couple happily walking past the jewelry display case, the salesman immediately invited them to see the latest products, accompanied by words like: “This ring will show your love. for his wife", or "The "marshal" husbands today spend 2 months of their salary buying jewelry for their wives, proposing to their wives over and over again".

Although feeling "disagree" with the high price, the above ads quickly made Tuan less uncomfortable, easily thinking of the next self-assurance thoughts for the shopping decision.


Regardless of the existing beliefs of users, if marketers understand the psychology and create conditions for them to come up with solutions to resolve cognitive dissonance, new orders will certainly appear.

But if customers feel uninterested, cognitive dissonance immediately increases feelings of guilt, regret, suspense, etc., making them maintain their existing beliefs and refuse to "put down money".

Not only that, consumers also experience cognitive dissonance some time after purchasing a product/service, leading to more caution before making a decision. That's why the seller immediately used "reassurance" tactics through after-sales, warranty, 1-for-1, etc.

Google Tech News - Trade Circle

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