Creating a Cognitive Discrepancy – What’s the Big Deal?

April 11, 2014 (old blog)

Although most of you are likely familiar with RIPPLE’s aim to create a cognitive discrepancy, I’ll briefly refresh your memory. Within the RIPPLE program, after parents respond to two (quick!) questions about their child’s lifestyle behaviours, their answers will be contrasted against either descriptive (normative data from the Canadian population) or injunctive data (national guidelines).

Why do we care so much about creating a cognitive discrepancy? Previous studies have established that cognitive dissonance, which results from discrepancy production, can have a strong influence on intention to change behavior(s). Now that being said, there is a sweet spot; while a cognitive discrepancy too small is unlikely to influence intention to change, a cognitive discrepancy too large may actually exacerbate intention to change if the optimal behaviour is perceived as unattainable. Thus, we are interested in creating a discrepancy that exceeds the minimum threshold to influence intention, but does not surpass the limit which dampens motivation to change and improve children’s lifestyle behaviours.

Stay tuned for hypotheses about which feedback (injunctive or descriptive) will create the optimalcognitive discrepancy!

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