Dissonance and self-perception: An integrative view of each theory's proper domain of application

Russell H. Fazio, Mark P. Zanna, Joel Cooper

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204 Scopus citations


The literature concerning the controversy between dissonance and selfperception theories is reviewed. It is proposed that the two theories be regarded not as "competing" formulations but as complementary ones and, furthermore, that each theory is applicable only to its own specialized domain. Self-perception theory, it is suggested, accurately characterizes attitude change phenomena in the context of attitude-congruent behavior and dissonance theory attitude change in the context of attitude-discrepant behavior. Attitude-congruent is defined as any position within an individual's latitude of acceptance; attitude-discrepant as any position in the latitude of rejection. An experimental test of these notions produced confirming evidence. Subjects who were given an opportunity to misattribute any potential dissonance arousal to an external stimulus did not change their attitudes, relative to low choice subjects, if they were committed to endorsing a position in their latitude of rejection. If the commitment concerned a position in the latitude of acceptance, however, these subjects did exhibit attitude change relative to low choice subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-479
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1977

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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