Cognitive Discrepancy, Dissonance, and Selective Exposure

Stephanie Jean Tsang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Although cognitive dissonance is regarded as one of the most recognized causes of selective exposure [N. J. Stroud, Niche News (Oxford University Press, 2011)], the mechanism for such causation is still unclear. By inducing dissonance in a web-based experiment, this study demonstrates how cognitive dissonance relates to information preferences—the intention to seek congruent information and the intention to seek incongruent information. The findings suggest that perceived hostility with respect to one’s belief (cognitive discrepancy) can enhance the intention to seek out for attitude-consistent information. More importantly, individuals were found to have the intention to avoid counterattitudinal information, but only when they experienced some sort of psychological discomfort (dissonance). In other words, while cognitive discrepancy leads individuals to crave for confirming information, only those who encounter negative emotions are likely to employ avoidance of disconfirming information as a dissonance-reduction strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-417
Number of pages24
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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