Decision freedom as a determinant of the role of incentive magnitude in attitude change

Darwyn E. Linder, Joel Cooper, Edward E. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

244 Scopus citations


journal abstract: In the forced-compliance paradigm, attitude change following a counter-attitudinal performance has been shown to be both a direct (reinforcement prediction) and an inverse (dissonance prediction) function of the amount of incentive offered. An experiment successfully demonstrated that if S feels free not to comply attitude change will be inversely related to incentive magnitude, but that the positive relationship will hold if this freedom is reduced. It was hypothesized that the procedure of an earlier study by Rosenberg, whose results supported the reinforcement prediction, inadvertently reduced Ss' freedom not to comply. When this procedure was closely replicated in a 2nd experiment, the positive relationship was again found, but when the procedure was modified to make a decision not to comply a viable alternative for S, the inverse relationship resulted. The 2 experiments together show that a low incentive arouses dissonance, leading to attitude change, only when the person remains free to decide against compliance after he has been fully informed about the incentive. If the incentive is announced after the person is committed to compliance, a reinforcement effect obtains. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1967
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • attitude change
  • decision freedom
  • incentive magnitude
  • motivation
  • reinforcement


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