In the fifty years since publication of Festinger's When Prophecy Fails (1956), scholars have reduced the reliability of this study to one statement, namely, that Festinger holds true if, and only if, failed prophecy results in believers actively proselytizing others. This essay takes a different tack. Rather than offer yet another modification to the Festinger thesis, it is the purpose of this essay to suggest additional lines of inquiry that have heretofore been overlooked. After an assessment of a small but representative sample of the research that Festinger has inspired, this essay will outline three alternative research trajectories that interested scholars might fruitfully follow, each related to the original focus of Festinger on prophecy and dissonance. First, dissonance seeking consonance might account for why people join prophetic movements. Second, the resolution of cognitive dissonance might be the occasion for a prophetic utterance rather than the result of a failed prophecy. Third, the existence of multiple prophets within a movement and the rivalries that result appear to heighten dissonance, sometimes undermining the confidence of committed followers.
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