Cognitive Consistency in Purchase Behaviour: Theoretical & Empirical Analyses

  •  Hart O. Awa    
  •  Christen A. Nwuche    


The fundamental thrust of consistency theories is to enforce equilibrium among one’s cognitions. Man seeks haemostatic states among his cognitive elements or avoids conflicting stimuli. He loves the familiar; the unfamiliar is always discomforting and disturbing though common knowledge tells us that actual behaviour turns what seems novel at the pre-decision stage into familiar following series of learning and experience. The Heider’s balance theory, Osgood’s congruity model and Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory are the three popular schools of thought that  provide the foundational theories of cognitive consistency This paper critically analyzed and synthesized the major theoretical and empirical body of knowledge of these schools with a view to proffering a tripartite approach (involving the consumers, the organizations and the governments) to solving inconsistency among cognitive elements (e.g.; values, beliefs, knowledge and attitudes). These schools were specifically looked into and assessed in terms of their individual real world application and/or empirical fertility. Each represents an improvement upon the other with Festinger’s theory providing the most elaborate perspective of emphasizing on psychological tension and means of achieving consistency within and between the cognitive system and ultimately overt and covert behaviours.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.