disconfirmed expectancy

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disconfirmed expectancy (countable and uncountable, plural disconfirmed expectancies)

  1. (psychology) A failed prophecy, leading to a form of cognitive dissonance in the believer.[1]
    • 1994, Philip D. Cooper, Health Care Marketing: A Foundation for Managed Quality, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, →ISBN, page 58:
      Assimilation theory in marketing research draws upon Festinger's (1957) cognitive dissonance theory and suggests that disconfirmed expectancy about a product or service will create psychological discomfort. As a result, consumers will reduce psychological tension by modifying assessment of the technical quality of the product or service.
    • 2001, Joy Higgs, Angie Titchen, Professional Practice in Health, Education and the Creative Arts, Wiley-Blackwell, →ISBN, page 56:
      Expectancies are disconfirmed when what people anticipate will happen fails to occur or when things do not happen in quite the way they had anticipated, that is 'things are not how they were meant to be' (Mullavey-O'Byrne & Fitzgerald 1995). Responses to such situations are often charged with high levels of emotionality that may or may not be expressed; alternatively a disconfirmed expectancy may also lead to a positive emotional response.
    • 2007, Jim Burtles, Coping with Crisis: A Counselor's Guide to the Restabilization Process, Loving Healing Press, →ISBN, page 4:
      Social psychologist Leon Festinger first proposed the theory in 1957 after the publication of his book When Prophecy Fails, observing the counterintuitive belief persistence of members of a UFO doomsday cult and their increased proselytization after the leader's prophecy failed. The failed message of earth's destruction, purportedly sent by aliens to a woman in 1956, became a disconfirmed expectancy that increased dissonance between cognitions, thereby causing most members of the impromptu cult to lessen the dissonance by accepting a new prophecy: that the aliens had instead spared the planet for their sake.


  1. ^ Festinger, Leon; Henry Riecken, Stanley Schachter (1956) When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of A Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World, Harper-Torchbooks, →ISBN, →ISBN