Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Gary Bredfeldt


Anger, Behavior, Change, Cognition, Dissonance, Meekness


Christianity | Education | Educational Leadership | Religion


This phenomenological research examined the role of cognitive dissonance in the process of spiritual and behavioral change in the lives of mature Christian exemplars within the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) located in the Southeast Region of the United States of America by peering through the lens of the emotion of anger to explore one’s transformation toward meekness. Utilizing a purposive sampling, this study sought to explore the magnitude of behavioral change from a tendency toward anger to a tendency toward meekness as one matures as a Christian. It sought to close the gap in understanding how Christians viewed this emotion as either a God-given gift intended to serve the Holy Spirit’s work in the sanctification process or as a deadly sin one must wrestle with on one’s own, tame and domesticate through self-help, in order to make one’s behavior acceptable to society at large. By utilizing Festinger’s Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, this research expanded upon what is known regarding this multi-faceted emotion’s ability to influence one’s behavior and what is perceived regarding its employment by Christians in executing the will of God—and how that can require changing or modifying one’s behavior. To accomplish this, this research addressed the head-heart connection of why we do what we do—which required focusing one’s attention on the less understood affective domain as well as the more understood and well-researched cognitive domain.