The Ben Franklin effect is a proposed psychological phenomenon: a person who has already performed a favor for another is more likely to do another favor for the other than if they had received a favor from that person. An explanation for this is cognitive dissonance. People reason that they help others because they like them, even if they do not, because their minds struggle to maintain logical consistency between their actions and perceptions.
This perception of Franklin has been cited as an example within cognitive dissonance theory, which says that people change their attitudes or behavior to resolve tensions, or "dissonance", between their thoughts, attitudes, and actions. In the case of the Ben Franklin effect, the dissonance is between the subject's negative attitudes to the other person and the knowledge that they did that person a favor.One science blogger accounts for the phenomenon in the following way: "Current self-perception theory tells us that our brains behave like an outside observer, continually watching what we do and then contriving explanations for those actions, which subsequently influence our beliefs about ourselves....Our observing brain doesn't like it when our actions don't match the beliefs we have about ourselves, a situation commonly referred to as cognitive dissonance. So, whenever your behavior is in conflict with your beliefs (for example if you do a favor for someone you may not like very much or vice versa, when you do something bad to someone you are supposed to care about), this conflict immediately sets off alarm bells in your brain. The brain has a clever response – it goes about changing how you feel in order to reduce the conflict and turn off the alarms."