Pandemic, Perceived Risk, and Cognitive Dissonance as Antecedents to Need for Cognitive Closure

Pandemic, Perceived Risk, and Cognitive Dissonance as Antecedents to Need for Cognitive Closure

Ruchika Sachdeva
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSMET.298676
Article PDF Download
Open access articles are freely available for download


The purpose of this article is to examine the influence of pandemic, perceived risk, and cognitive dissonance on the need for cognitive closure. A consumer today wants an aversion towards the ambiguity that is created due to this pandemic. The data is collected using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk panel. All of the filled questionnaires are analyzed using stepwise regression. The findings suggest that perceived risk, pandemic, cognitive dissonance influence the need for cognitive closure and perceived risk is the major predictor of cognitive closure. These results enrich our understandings with regards to the importance of designing the marketing strategies in a way that will lead to the reduction in the consumer's perceived risk and cognitive dissonance created due to the pandemic.
Article Preview


A large amount of research has studied various dimensions of the need for cognitive closure. In previous theory and research need for closure was defined in terms of a desire for ‘an answer on a given topic, any answer, . . . compared to confusion and ambiguity (Kruglanski, 1990, p. 337). This desire may instill a tendency to seize quickly on an available belief, attitude, or decision followed by a subsequent ‘freezing’ on this obtained structure (Kruglanski & Webster,1996). Considerable theory has emerged to explain how and why consumers with a high need for closure encourages activities aimed at achieving closure and biases individual choices, preferences in the direction of closure-bound pursuits. Multiple streams of writing have produced insights into a consumer need for closure and concluded that a consumer with a high need for closure are less sensitive to alternative hypotheses (Kruglanski & Mayseless, 1988), avoid the information that is inconsistent with their set beliefs (Shavitt, 1989a, 1989b), is likely to make up the decision based on a few pieces of existing information (Houghton & Grewal, 2000), consider less evidence and focus selectively on belief-consistent information and neglect belief-inconsistent information (Kardes et al., 2004), are willing to pay more for products (Cronley et al., 2005), and are more resistant to change (Kruglanski et al., 2006). Current theory, however, has little to say about the shifting nature of the consumers need for cognitive closure impacted by pandemic. This world of a pandemic is new and there is no prior information, evidence, consistent beliefs, experiences or attitudes formed, so a consumer today is involved in information search and is considering the various alternatives for bringing things to closure. The changes in consumers desire for need for cognitive closure and situations under which consumers' need for cognitive closure is increased due to the influence of pandemic, remains unexplained by theory.

This research identifies possible conditions and situations under which consumers' need for cognitive closure is increased. The first situation is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has been a global health threat since December 2019. This respiratory disease has impacted every country across the globe. COVID-19 has impacted consumer’s in numerous ways. A consumer today is tired of the restrictions and listening about the new variants, and thus needs closure to it. Hence, it becomes an important area of research for analyzing its relation with the need for cognitive closure. Secondly, research has extensively investigated that dissonance arises in such situations where a consumer is in a psychological discomfort state and when they are confronted with inconsistent cognitions (Festinger, 1957). Dissonance arises when a consumer experiences logical inconsistency, violation of an expectation, inconsistency with experience from the past, a new unexpected situation that subsequently results in confusion, psychological tension, and mental discomfort. In essence, consumers across the globe lives in this situation today caused due to pandemic. This leads us to the second construct of the study -cognitive dissonance. Thirdly, it is also well documented in the marketing literature that 'consumer behaviour involves risk in the sense that any action of a consumer will produce consequences which he cannot anticipate with anything approximating certainty, and some of which at least are likely to be unpleasant (Bauer, 1960, p. 389). This pandemic has made consumers live in this situation of risk and uncertainty. This leads us to the next construct of the study -perceived risk. Lastly, some groups are more vulnerable than others to the psychological effects of a pandemic. These individual personality differences are also dependent on gender, age, education, and income level. The study aims at understanding the influence of various socio-demographic variables on the need for cognitive closure.

The objectives of this research study are to:

  • 1.

    To study the impact of a pandemic, perceived risk, and cognitive dissonance on the need for cognitive closure.

  • 2.

    Construct and purify a smaller version of the scale for all the constructs used in the study.

  • 3.

    To study the effect of various sociodemographic variables on the need for cognitive closure.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Volume 15: 1 Issue (2024)
Volume 14: 1 Issue (2023)
Volume 13: 6 Issues (2022): 2 Released, 4 Forthcoming
Volume 12: 6 Issues (2021)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2010)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing