Cognitive dissonance in an intergroup context

Joel Cooper, Diane Mackie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


42 student members of a campus group supporting Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election participated in a study of the effects of group membership on dissonance reduction. In a 2 × 2 factorial design, half of the Ss were asked to write arguments contrary to their attitudes, whereas the other half were required to write such arguments. Half of the Ss were then asked to advocate a position that was counter to the attitude that defined their membership in the group. The other half produced arguments that were counter to attitudes relevant to but not definitional of group membership. It was predicted that attitude change would be used as a way to reduce dissonance only by those Ss who freely wrote arguments counter to nondefinitional attitudes. Attitude change was not possible, however, for Ss who freely produced arguments counter to a definitional attitude; these Ss were expected to misattribute their arousal to the existence of a competing out-group and to reduce their dissonance by derogating that group. Results supported these predictions. The importance of group membership in affecting attitude change is discussed. (10 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-544
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • group membership, role of attitude change vs attribution to competing out-group in cognitive dissonance reduction during contrary argument composition task, members of campus group supporting R. Reagan for president


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