Unforeseen events and the elimination of cognitive dissonance

Joel Cooper, George R. Goethals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Tested the notion that the unforeseeable elimination of an aversive consequence following from attitude-discrepant behavior does not eliminate dissonance. 53 undergraduates agreed to deliver a speech advocating an unwanted position. Half of the Ss were led to believe that their speech would definitely be played to a group considering proposals on the issue. The other half were told that the speech might be played to this group. After recording their speeches, half of the Ss in each group discovered that their speeches would be played, while the other half learned that they would not be used. Data indicate that the Ss changed their attitudes in accord with dissonance theory predictions when their speech was played to the policy-making group, i.e. when aversive consequences occurred. However, when aversive consequences were eliminated, attitude change was eliminated in the group that knew of the possibility that the speech might not be used but not in the group that expected that their behavior would definitely lead to aversive consequences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-445
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1974

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • unforeseeable elimination of aversive consequence following from attitude-discrepant behavior, cognitive dissonance, college students


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