Dissonance awareness: A test of dissonance theory versus self-perception theory

Mark Snyder, Ebbe B. Ebbesen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The effects of choice, initial attitude salience, and counterattitudinal behavior salience upon attitudes were examined within a forced-compliance essay-writing paradigm. By examining the interactions between choice and each of the behavior and attitude salience variables, an attempt was made to test the relative utility of cognitive dissonance and self-perception theories. Consistent with both theories, when neither initial attitudes nor behavior were salient, subjects agreed with their essays more under Choice than under No Choice conditions. In partial accord with self-perception theory but contrary to dissonance theory predictions, when initial attitudes were made salient, Choice subjects agreed less with their essays and No Choice subjects agreed more with their essays than when initial attitudes were not made salient. Both theories predict that behavior salience should increase the basic choice effect; in fact, this variable had no effect on final attitudes. A self-estimate theory was proposed to account for the relationships observed among one's perceived choice, perceived extremity of one's essay, and one's final attitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-517
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1972


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