Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith proposed the term cognitive dissonance which is Every individual has his or her Festinger, L. and Carlsmith, J. M. ( ). The following article by Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith is the classic study on Reprinted from Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, , 58, . Forced compliance theory is a paradigm that is closely related to cognitive dissonance theory. Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith () conducted an experiment entitled “Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance”. This study.

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Notice that dissonance theory does not state that these modes of dissonance reduction will actually work, only that individuals who are in a state of cognitive dissonance will take steps to reduce ad extent of their dissonance.

In other words, he could tell himself that a short life filled with smoking and sensual pleasures is better than a long life devoid of such joys. Rating scale snd to This question is less directly related to the dissonance that was experimentally created for the S s. Specifically, subjects were asked to put spools onto and then off the try with the use of only one hand for half an hour, and then for the next half hour, turn square pegs clockwise in quarter turns, and then start all over again once the whole festingerr been finished for all 48 square pegs.

The students were asked to perform a tedious task involving using one hand to turn small spools a quarter clockwise turn.

In evaluating the total magnitude of dissonance one must take account of both dissonances and consonances. The discussion between the S and the girl was recorded on a hidden tape recorder. The said group served as the control group of the experiment.

Participants in the high-dissonance condition chose between a highly desirable product and one rated just 1 point lower on the 8-point scale. These made them question what the real purpose of the study is.

Participants were also told that they would receive one of the products at the end of the experiment to compensate for their time and effort. Variables included multiple levels of commitment. Forced compliance occurs when an individual performs an action that is inconsistent with his or her beliefs. Many people seem able to cope with considerable dissonance and not experience the tensions the theory predicts. In this course, students are required to spend a certain number of hours as subjects S s in experiments.


Among the paid participants, 5 had suspicions about getting paid for the designated task. Helmreich and Collins conducted an experiment entitled “Studies in Forced Compliance: For example, when people smoke behavior and they know that smoking causes cancer cognitionthey are in a state of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance and Festinger & Carlsmith’s Study

A person could convince themself that it is better to “live for today” than to “save for tomorrow. Festinger and Carlsmith – cognitive dissonanceCognitive consequences of Forced Compliance.

After performing the boring task turning spools on pegs; removing spools from pegs and then putting them backsubjects were asked to help the experimenter to convince another subject to participate in the study they just completed. According to Festinger and Carlsmith, the participants experienced dissonance between the conflicting cognitions of telling someone that a particular task is interesting when the truth is, they found it rather uninteresting and boring.

The variability is greater, however, and the differences do not yield high levels of statistical significance. This point will be discussed further in connection with the results. These recordings were transcribed and then rated, by two independent raters, on five dimensions. The participants were paid for their tasks.

Cognitive Dissonance

However, within the lower commitment level anonymous audio recording participants, higher pay yielded more attitude change. At the interviewer’s office door the experimenter asked the interviewer whether he wished to interview the subject.

In summary, this study concluded that if an individual performs an action that goes against what they initially believe, the belief will typically change. I do not like Fred; I agreed to give him a ride to a job fsstinger. The experimenter again brought up the possibility of someone from Introductory Psychology wanting to interview the subject.

Festinger & Carlsmith Cognitive dissonance consequences of forced compliance

We wish to thank Leonard Hommel, Judson Mills, and Robert Terwilliger for their help in designing and carrying out the experiment. A sheet of paper headed “For Group B” was shown by the experimenter to the subject which outlined a role this associate was expected to perform in conveying enthusiam for the experimental tasks.


If a person is induced to do or say something which is contrary to his private opinion, there will be a tendency for him to change his opinion so as to bring it into correspondence with what he has done or said. A common way to reduce dissonance is to increase the attractiveness of the chosen alternative and to decrease the attractiveness of the rejected alternative.

After performing the tasks, each of the subjects was then interviewed regarding how enjoyable the tasks were to him. He explained that, since they were required to serve in experiments, the department was conducting a study to evaluate these experiments in order to be able to improve them in the future.

Acta Psychologica15, What happens to a person’s private opinion if he is forced to do or say something contrary to that opinion? One would then expect no differences at all among the three conditions. It is most persuasive when it comes to feelings and thoughts about oneself. When the interview was over, the interviewer brought the S back to the experimental room where the E was waiting together with the girl who had posed as the waiting S. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59 2 He did this for one-half hour.

The purpose was to make the task uninteresting and unexciting enough that none of the participants could possibly find it enjoyable. In the ‘severe embarrassment’ condition, they had to read aloud obscene words and a very explicit sexual passage. The interviewer, of course, was always kept in complete ignorance of which condition the S was in.

Cognitive dissonance theory describes the unpleasant feeling that results from believing two contrary ideas at the same time.

Method Female participants were informed they would be helping out in a study funded by several festijger. Generally speaking, the social comparison theory explains how individuals evaluate their opinion and desires by comparing themselves to others.