Cognitive dissonance and attitudes toward unpleasant medical screenings

Michael R. Ent*, Mary A. Gerend

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Two studies suggest that cognitive dissonance can lead people to adopt negative attitudes toward beneficial - yet unpleasant - medical screenings. People who thought that they were candidates for an unpleasant medical screening reported less favorable attitudes toward the screening than people who thought that they were ineligible (Study 1). The unpleasantness of a medical screening affected candidates' attitudes toward the screening to a greater extent than non-candidate's attitudes (Study 2). Limitations, including ambiguity regarding the extent to which participants' attitudes were affected specifically by dissonance, are discussed. This preliminary research suggests people attempt to reduce dissonance associated with their anticipated behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2075-2084
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • cognitive dissonance
  • medical decision-making
  • medical screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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