Overcoming Cognitive Dissonance in Purchasing

June 12th, 2017

Concepts for engaging decision makers!

 

Today’s post is  from our Archives by Michael Figueroa then an Account Manager and now Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing

Cognitive Dissonance is the state of having a set of beliefs, attitudes, and ideas, and being faced with information that conflicts with those concepts. Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance theory holds that all people attempt to keep all of their beliefs, attitudes, and information in harmony. The problem that often comes up, however, is that we sometimes unconsciously suppress or modify correct information in order to avoid having that information conflict with what we already believe.

An example of this in purchasing would be when a procurement decision is made, and the project turns out badly. Often times the decision will be defended and even REPEATED, rather than the decision maker admitting fault. Why? Because most people automatically feel they need to defend their decisions in order to preserve what they believe about themselves. If you believe you are a great decision maker, you will look for information that supports that belief, and avoid information that conflicts with that belief. Here are a couple of ways to help avoid pitfalls on both sides of the purchase:

The Enthymeme

An Enthymeme is a truncated form of syllogism, where a premise or conclusion is left out of the argument. It is always easier to let someone convince themselves of something than it ever will be for you to, even if your audience’ belief is fallacious. When we pose a logical argument, but don’t explicitly state the conclusion, we allow our audience to extrapolate on their own instead of risking putting them on the defensive because we are demanding they believe what we are advocating. Example; “XYZ Company isn’t certified and the manufacturing process requires certification”. This type of statement can be much more effective than shooting straight for the conclusion “Don’t go with XYZ Company.”

The Ben Franklin Effect

When we do a favor for someone, we tend to justify our actions to ourselves that we did the favor BECAUSE we liked them. We naturally tend to avoid Cognitive Dissonance by changing other beliefs, in favor of holding onto beliefs we have about ourselves. Be on the lookout for people who would use this concept against you; how often have you heard a sales pitch that starts off by asking you for a small favor? It’s a commonly used tactic to use your beliefs against you in order to obtain something the sales-person wants.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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