Cognitive Dissonance in Social Media and Face-to-Face Interactions in Relation to the Legacy of War

Sanja Vico


Acknowledgment of ingroup responsibility and outgroup suffering is needed for post-conflict societies to move on. Scholars have argued that this attitude shift happens through cognitive dissonance, an unpleasant experience of inconsistency between views and behavior. Existing research on cognitive dissonance has focused on psychological triggers. By doing so, it has overlooked social triggers. This study argues that the experience of cognitive dissonance depends on a combination of the features of communicative environments that encourage dialogic exchange and actors deemed legitimate to speak about human rights violations. Evidence draws on discourse analysis of interactions on Facebook, Twitter, and in face-to-face focus groups. This study finds that cognitive dissonance occurs in engaged interactions, through lengthy negotiations of meanings that is most prevalent in face-to-face interactions among ordinary people, somewhat present on Facebook, and least observable in interactions with human rights activists on Twitter.


cognitive dissonance, social media, face-to-face interactions, denial, acknowledgment

Full Text: