Choosing universities and cognitive dissonance theory

When students are choosing between universities they want to FEEL they have made the right choice. If they feel it isn't right, they will experience discomfort from their decision: we call this discomfort cognitive dissonance. I had a student who rejected his insurance uni (didn't get the Firm) and started looking at clearing options. He stated all the negative points about his insurance uni choice and called them to turn it down. When he realised that he didn't like what he saw was available, suddenly his insurance looked more attractive than it had previously. He started telling students around him of all the positives of his former insurance uni choice!

He called the insurance uni (which he had rejected only an hour ago) and tried to get his place back. Obviously, they turned him down: the place had gone. He then started informing everyone of the negatives: he didn't want to go there anyway! The way he could 'turn up' the volume of the positives or negatives is an example of cognitive dissonance theory in the process of decision-making: it helps us cope with the anxiety that our decision might not be right so we adjust the volumes of positives and negatives to make us feel that our decision was actually the correct one.

A common way to reduce dissonance is to increase the attractiveness of the chosen alternative and to decrease the attractiveness of the rejected alternative. This is a very common occurrence in the clearing process so it's worth sharing with students. Read general information on dissonance theory here.