Examples of Primary Research
Leon Festinger’s first published case of cognitive dissonance theory was illustrated with a study done with Stanley Schachter about a UFO cult that believed the end of the world is at hand. Festinger and his associates read an interesting article in their local newspaper called “Prophecy from planet Clarion call to city: flee that flood” (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1964). The woman who started this was a Chicago housewife, Marion Keech, had been given messages in her house in the form of “automatic writing” from alien beings on the planet Clarion, who revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954. The group of believers, lead by Keech, had taken strong behavioral steps to indicate their degree of commitment to the belief. They had quit jobs, college, left spouses and had given away money and possessions to prepare for their departure on the flying saucer, which was to rescue the group of true believers (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1964).
The assertion of the study saw this as a case that would lead to the arousal of dissonance when the prophecy would fail (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1964). Changing the belief would be difficult since Keech’s group was already committed at a high expense to maintain their belief in this prophecy. Festinger said in his book that the more people believe in a situation than it must be true (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1964). In a nutshell, Keech could be more precise by converting others to the basic premise of her messages sent by aliens from the planet Clarion, The magnitude of her belief following disconfirmation would be reduced. Festinger and his colleagues predicted that the inevitable disconfirmation would be followed by an enthusiastic effort of recruitment of social support and lessen the pain of disbelief (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1964).
Listed below is a sequence of events that Festinger and his.