Dissonance arousal: Physiological evidence

Robert T. Croyle, Joel Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Two studies examined whether cognitive dissonance is accompanied by physiological arousal. In Exp I, a standard induced-compliance paradigm was replicated and found to produce the expected pattern of attitude change in 30 male undergraduates. In Exp II, physiological recordings were obtained from 30 additional male undergraduates within the same paradigm. Ss who wrote counterattitudinal essays under high-choice conditions displayed significantly more nonspecific skin conductance responses than other Ss, but they did not change their attitudes. Results support dissonance as an arousal process. Results also indicate that the Ss misattributed their arousal to the physiological recording device. Findings are discussed in terms of dissonance theory, misattribution phenomena, and social psychophysiological research methods. (38 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-791
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • cognitive dissonance, physiological arousal, college students


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