Unlearning Cognitive Dissonance: Toward an Understanding of the Development of Dissonance

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The results of two experiments support the idea that cognitive dissonance is weakened following misattribution, suggesting a role for experience in the development of dissonance. The first experiment placed people in an essay-writing, induced compliance situation and replicated the finding that people who misattributed their arousal to an external source did not show evidence of dissonance arousal. The second experiment involved the same participants and placed them in a different dissonance arousing situation. The data showed that participants who had previously misattributed their dissonance showed very little evidence of dissonance arousal despite not having a stimulus to which they could misattribute their arousal. The results are discussed in terms of the possibility that we may learn to experience dissonance. The implications of these results for the role of dissonance in an emerging self-system are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-575
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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