Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Bergmann, I, von der Heidt, T & Maller, C 2010, 'Cognitive dissonance and individuals' response strategies as a basis for audience segmentation to reduce factory farmed meat consumption', in R Russell-Bennett and S Rundle-Thiele (eds), 2010 International Nonprofit and Social Marketing conference (INSM): conference proceedings, Brisbane 15-16 July, Griffith, University, Nathan, Qld., pp. 32-35. ISBN: 9781741073201

Copyright The Authors 2010


This paper describes an audience segmentation study that highlights several areas where current social marketing strategies in relation to reducing factory farmed meat consumption could be more effectively applied. The need to address factory farming (intensive animal agriculture) and meat consumption is supported by a large body of evidence that points to their deleterious impacts worldwide, including their impact on the health of communities, on social and environmental justice (e.g. Nierenberg and Garcés 2004), on animal welfare (e.g. Donham et al., 2007), on water, air and biodiversity and their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions (Steinfeld et al., 2006).

This paper presents part of the analysis of data collected in 2009 for a study designed to shed light on what factors influence Australians’ attitudes toward factory farming and under what circumstances they would support or reject factory farming. Initial results showed that motivations for maintaining meat consumption are strong, extremely varied and complex. Yet one factor emerged that could help to better understand this audience’s motivations and to develop audience segmentation - the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance (CD) and the response strategies that individuals apply to avoid it. CD is an uncomfortable and unsettling feeling that arises when conflicting ideas or ideas and behaviour occur simultaneously. According to Festinger (1957), humans try to avoid CD by adjusting their behaviours, attitudes and beliefs, by rationalising and justifying them or by actively avoiding situations or information that increase CD. This phenomenon has not yet received much attention in social marketing theorising. Here we explore the role of CD in understanding factory farmed meat consumption with a view to informing social marketing strategy.