I'm new to CogSci and to Psychology in general, so forgive me if this question has been answered before...

I see a pattern in many sociological environments that goes like this:

  1. Someone promises a better (possibly imaginary) state of living to someone else
  2. But this better state will only be achieved if the someone else endures a hardship period or similar
  3. A lot of "Someone elses" go through the hardship, and many of them endure a lot of time and justify what they are doing, even though nothing has really changed.

What I am most interested in is this aspect of point 3: that, even if there isn't a real difference, people will think there is, just because they endured the hardship.

Some examples:

a) A promise that some phone/shoe/whatever is much better than the alternative, but it is overpriced. People who bought it (endured the hardship) will find a justification for it at any cost (even if there isn't one).

b) A promise to achieve a peaceful state of mind through daily meditation for a long period of time. People who are committed to meditating will find any small improvement in life as if it was related to that.

Is there a psychological term for this "phenomenon"/behavior? Has it been studied (I'm sure it might have been)?

This may be related to consistency theory, but I'm not sure about that. Any indications of articles about it would be welcome.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ related to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escalation_of_commitment? $\endgroup$
    – Memming
    May 17 '17 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes! I think that's exactly it. Thank you. If you want to post that as an answer, I will accept that. $\endgroup$ May 18 '17 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ I am not knowledgeable enough in this topic to provide an answer. I'm sure many on cogsci.SE can give much better answer. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Memming
    May 18 '17 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ The psychological term for this is cognitive dissonance, which happens unconsciously, and is indeed one of several forms of consistency theory. The loss aversion / sunk-cost / escalation of commitment rationalizations are typically consciously expressed explanations for behavior "I know it isn't working, but I have already committed so much to this, that I might as well go all the way", which is not something you would typically hear from people who overpay for things or persist with some medical quackery. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jun 1 at 3:34

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