Role of undesired consequences in arousing cognitive dissonance

Joel Cooper, Stephen Worchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Tested the proposition that counterattitudinal advocacy does not lead to the arousal of cognitive dissonance unless that advocacy results in undesirable consequences. 56 male undergraduates performed an extremely dull task. They then were offered varying incentives to tell a waiting S that the dull task was interesting and enjoyable. 1/2 of the Ss learned that they had succeeded in convincing their supposedly naive, unsuspecting colleague that the task would be interesting. The other 1/2 learned that their colleague still believed that the task would be dull. All Ss then evaluated the task. Results support the prediction that only those Ss who thought they had brought about the undesirable consequence of convincing the waiting S that the task was interesting would demonstrate the dissonance-produced, inverse relationship between incentive magnitude and attitude change. Implications of findings for some of the recent revisions of dissonance theory are discussed. (18 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1970

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • arousal of cognitive dissonance, role of undesired consequences
  • counterattitudinal advocacy &


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