Let’s think about human behavior on a deeper level than the social trends we see changing on an almost day-to-day basis. Actions change attitude faster than attitude change actions.
For those who do not know what cognitive dissonance is, it’s the mental stress or detachedness we feel when what we are doing doesn’t quite match up with our beliefs or our feelings. For example, if you do not like the job you’re at, you will develop a cognitive dissonance towards it; you’ll begin to loathe going into the office and you’d eventually quit…Well, I sure hope you’d quit.
Alternatively, conflict in your mind is a technique marketers can use to get people interested in their brands.
Take this case study from Benjamin Franklin for example. (I know, he’s not a marketing guru...But he was one hell of a smart guy and led quite an accomplished life.) Franklin once wrote that at some point during his term as clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly, there was a man (who remains unnamed) who outspokenly delivered a speech that was basically an attack on him. Benjamin Franklin did not understand why this man disliked him so much, especially considering they had never met. He held the unnamed man to a high regard and wanted to make an attempt at giving him a more favorable opinion. Most people would say that if you want someone to like you, you would offer to do them a favor to get into their good graces. Franklin did the opposite. He asked his attacker if he could borrow a book from him. His attacker although surprised, agreed to lend Franklin the book (which was returned with a Thank-You note) and it worked. The two men became lifelong friends.
How did this work, you ask? Actions changes attitude faster than attitude changes actions.
When Benjamin Franklin’s challenger did him the favor of lending him the book, it created a cognitive dissonance. These actions did not reflect his feelings towards Benjamin. It was easier for the unnamed man to adjust his feelings rather than take back the action he had already made.
You often see this technique in marketing when a consumer is prompted to interact with the brand being marketed. When the consumer makes a positive action in response to a company interacting with them, they are likely to become convinced they like the brand as a way to justify their actions.