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Some Connotations of Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Myers, Albert E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Office of Naval Research, Behavior Theories, Cognitive Dissonance, Psychological Studies, Reinforcement


Sixteen psychologists were asked to make two predictions about the volunteering behavior of subjects who had participated in a psychological experiment. The first prediction was to be based upon each psychologist's personal opinion about the outcome. They were encouraged to use any psychological theory which seemed appropriate to them. The second prediction was to be based upon what the respondents thought cognitive dissonance theory would predict in the situation. Results suggest that connotations may be present in cognitive dissonance theory which generate implications which are, perhaps, both unwarranted and undesirable. These data are not, however, in any manner a test of the denotative structure of the theory since cognitive dissonance theory does not specify which anchors will give way. It is also noted that the most salient cognitive dissonance theory experiments are ones in which the data cannot be easily explained by other theories, particularly reinforcement theory. The relationship between these predictions and the actual outcome was also noted. (JGL)

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