Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Bruce Alford


This study explores possible reasons for why consumers persist in their beliefs despite being exposed to substantial disconfirming evidence. The theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger 1957) provides an important foundation for the pervasiveness of the confirmation bias and belief perseverance. Four main research paradigms of cognitive dissonance theory are discussed: free choice, induced or forced compliance, belief disconfirmation, and hypocrisy. Confirmation bias and belief perseverance are positioned in the belief disconfirmation paradigm.

Confirmation bias refers to the general tendency to readily accept evidence that supports one's beliefs and to reject or avoid evidence that goes against such beliefs. Belief perseverance, a phenomenon attributed to the confirmation bias, is the tendency to continue believing what we do in the face of disconfirming evidence. This study assesses whether contrary evidence has an effect on consumer beliefs regarding the perceived benefits of organic food consumption.

Dissonance research in marketing has primarily focused on consumer decision making and post-purchase regret. For this reason, the study examines the impact of prepurchase cognitive dissonance using a mixed methods approach. Subjects are exposed to considerable disconfirming evidence, and subsequent belief perseverance (or change) is examined. These effects on cognitive dissonance and purchase behavior are tested. A qualitative assessment of open-ended responses regarding instances of belief perseverance is also conducted; results and key managerial implications are discussed.

Included in

Marketing Commons