Influencing Republicans’ and Democrats’ attitudes toward Obamacare: Effects of imagined vicarious cognitive dissonance on political attitudes

Joel Cooper, Lauren A. Feldman, Shane F. Blackman

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract

The field of experimental social psychology is appropriately interested in using novel theoretical approaches to implement change in the social world. In the current study, we extended cognitive dissonance theory by creating a new framework of social influence: imagined vicarious dissonance. We used the framework to influence attitudes on an important and controversial political attitude: U.S. citizens’ support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 36 Republicans and 84 Democrats were asked to imagine fellow Republicans and Democrats, respectively, making attitude discrepant statements under high and low choice conditions about support for the ACA. The data showed that vicarious dissonance, established by imagining a group member make a counterattitudinal speech under high-choice conditions (as compared to low-choice conditions), resulted in greater support for the Act by Republicans and marginally diminished support by Democrats. The results suggest a promising role for the application of vicarious dissonance theory to relevant societal issues and for further understanding the relationship of dissonance and people’s identification with their social groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Volume159
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

Keywords

  • Attitude change
  • cognitive dissonance
  • political psychology
  • social change
  • vicarious dissonance

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