How can a new car salesperson use what he/she knows about cognitive dissonance (sometimes called buyer’s remorse) to make a customer more content with their purchase (and less likely to want to...

How can a new car salesperson use what he/she knows about cognitive dissonance (sometimes called buyer’s remorse) to make a customer more content with their purchase (and less likely to want to return their vehicle)?

Expert Answers
jking22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to understand how a car sales man or woman can use the idea of cognitive dissonance theory to make a customer more content with their purchase, one must understand what cognitive dissonance theory is. Cognitive dissonance theory was purposed in 1957 by Leon Festinger. Cognitive dissonance can be defined as acting different from your beliefs, leading to feelings of anxiety, guilt, or other negative emotions. In this example, a customer, when buying a car, may believe that it is better to have a large amount of money saved, rather than spent. Counter to this belief, buying a car requires spending a lot of money. Upon buying the car (i.e. spending, the action, rather than saving, the belief) cognitive dissonance occurs. 

Part of Festinger's theory states that in some way the person will resolve dissonance. One such way, would be to simply change their action, and return the car. Something the car dealer is looking to avoid.

The car salesman can intervene before the sale however, to promote other strategies for the buyer in dealing with cognitive dissonance after the purchase. One such way would be for the car dealer to convince the customer that it's ok to spend money. This strategy may be difficult for the salesmen because it requires convincing the other party to change their beliefs. 

Alternatively, a more effective strategy the salesman may use is to rationalize to the buyer the effects of their decision, and focus on how the aspect of spending the money to buy a car would actually be beneficial to stronger held beliefs such as protecting their family with the newest safety features. In this example, spending the money, while creating dissonance, would also be fulfilling the belief of keeping ones family safe. In this way, the purchaser is able to fulfill another stronger need, justifying keeping the car despite the dissonance created by spending the money. 

Hope this helps!