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I am trying to understand when cognitive dissonance was first defined. Would mental health professionals have known about the concept of cognitive dissonance in 1972?

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    $\begingroup$ Have you had a quick look at the Wikipedia page on cognitive dissonance? Quickly looking for references at the bottom you can find at least that the concept existed before 1972: Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. I still believe this is a valid question though, but try doing some minimal initial research next time. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jun 5 '16 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ Cognitive Dissonance Dissonance!? Cognitive dissonance, as defined and researched by Festinger is a very counter-intuitive, but important concept. Be sure you understand it, before you try to use it. In my experience, the great majority of the people using the concept have no idea what it really means. If you're really interested I would encourage you to read Festinger's book (it's brief), examining the exact research he did. I am not current in the followup research, and that also may have changed the conception. $\endgroup$ – Lee Rothstein Jun 5 '16 at 12:30
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Glen McGhee's "A Cultural History of Cognitive Dissonance," (2005/2014) notes that Gustav Ichheiser (1897-1969) dealt with personal dissonance and dissonance reduction in 1928 (212 Note 2). Also Kurt Lewin's tension theory, and Festinger's level of aspiration work in 1940.

Lorne L. Dawson also has an interesting chapter, "Clearing the Underbrush: Moving Beyond Festinger To A New Paradigm For The Study of Failed Prophecy" (2011) that reminds us of the seminal role that Festinger/Riecken/Schachter, "When Prophecy Fails" (1956) plays in the development of cognitive dissonance theory.

Cognitive dissonance has been a part of social psychology and experimental psychology for a long time -- but what do you mean by "mental health professionals"? How were they trained? Where did they go to school? In the 1970s, there were numerous therapies, including Gestalt, Rogerian, Reichian, Freudian, Jungian, etc. Or are you talking about social workers? MSWs?

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi, and welcome to CogSci! This is already a great answer. In the future, once you have enough reputation to leave comments, you can ask for elaboration such as your last paragraph through comments on the question. For now, once you receive feedback you can just update your answer (or keep it as is, it is already valuable!). $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jun 6 '16 at 7:56

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