Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance: Causes, Effects, and How To Avoid It

It’s rare to meet anyone who has never experienced buyer’s remorse. It’s human nature to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side and maybe, just maybe, you bought the wrong fertilizer. That feeling is just a small part of something called cognitive dissonance.

Understanding it can help you create a better experience for your clients.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance is the mental discomfort that comes when you hold inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes. It is strongly related to decision-making.

So, what are the main causes of cognitive dissonance? There are three:

Induced Compliance

If you are put into an inescapable situation that you don’t agree with, your mind will fabricate reasons to justify your participation. It does this in order to avoid the experience of mental discomfort.

A perfect example of this was in a laboratory study that gave a group of participants an extremely boring task to complete. They were then instructed to tell another person (waiting in another room) that the task was fun. Some people were given $1 to do it, and others were given $20. Here’s the interesting part: those who received $1 were more likely to rate the activity highly.

Because the participants had no choice in whether or not to recommend the activity. The only difference was the monetary value. For those who only got $1, their minds created justification for the lie. Internal influence is much stronger than any dollar amount could be.


We tend to place higher value on things that take a significant amount of effort to achieve. This means more time or more money.

When we buy something that doesn’t stack up to what we first thought, we tend to justify it by listing the benefits. We can’t go back and change what we did (most of the time), so we need reasons to justify the effort we’ve already spent.


Every choice we make isn’t just saying yes to something, it’s also saying no to something else. It can be an extremely easy decision or one that requires a ton of thought. The difficulty of the decision simply multiplies the feeling of discomfort if you feel like you made the wrong choice.

Our brains tend to automatically create justifications for the decisions we make. However, creating concrete reasons to make clients feel good about their decision, helps squash buyer’s remorse.

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Here are a few other ways to help eliminate feelings of regret:

Manage Expectations

We mentioned this is our other blog, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t promise the world.

If there are expectations you set that can’t possibly be met, that is a one way ticket to buyer’s remorse. Focus your effects on the things your product or service excels at and the problems it will help solve.

Get Personal

Having a member of your company reach out after a purchase has been made is a nice personal touch. This can be a phone call or even a simple email. There are even tools to help you automate this process, so every customer is guaranteed to receive some form of post-buy thank you.

Create A Community

One easy (and relatively hands-off) way to help people feel good about their purchase is by allowing them to connect with other people who have also bought the same thing.

There are more hands-on ways to create community, such as hosting events for clients. However, creating a simple forum on your site or even on a third-party website is a simple way to help consumers connect.

As an added bonus you might even get valuable feedback to improve your product or service even further!