作者: Festinger / 7570次阅读 时间: 2009年11月14日

what happens to a person's private opinion if he is forced to do or  say something contrary to that opinion? Only recently has there been any  experimental work related to this question. Two studies reported by  Janis and King (1954; 1956) clearly showed that, at least under some  conditions, the private opinion changes so as to bring it into closer  correspondence with the overt behavior the person was forced to perform.  Specifically, they showed that if a person is forced to improvise a  speech supporting a point of view with which he disagrees, his private  opinion moves toward the position advocated in the speech. The observed  opinion change is greater than for persons who only hear the speech or  for persons who read a prepared speech with emphasis solely on execution  and manner of delivery The authors of these two studies explain their  results mainly in terms of mental rehearsal and thinking up new  arguments. In this way, they propose, the person who is forced to  improvise a speech convinces himself. They present some evidence, which  is not altogether conclusive, in support of this explanation. We will  have more to say concerning this explanation in discussing the results  of our experiment.

Kelman (1953) tried to pursue the matter further. He reasoned that if  the person is induced to make an overt statement contrary to his private  opinion by the offer of some reward, then the greater the reward  offered, the greater should be the subsequent opinion change. His data,  however did not support this idea. He found, rather, that a large reward  produced less subsequent opinion change than did a smaller reward.  Actually this finding by Kelman is consistent with the theory we will  outline below but, for a number of reasons is not conclusive. One of the  major weaknesses of the data is that not all subjects in the experiment  made an overt statement contrary to their private opinion in order to  obtain the offered reward. What is more, as one might expect, the  percentage of subjects who complied increased as the size of the offered  reward increased. Thus, with self-selection of who did and who did not  make the required overt statement and with varying percentages of  subjects in the different conditions who did make the requsted  statement, no interpretation of the data can be unequivocal.

Recently Festinger (1957) proposed a theory concerning cognitive  dissonance from which come a number of derivations about opinion change  following forced compliance. Since these derivations are stated in  detail by Festinger (1957, Ch. 4), we will here give only a brief  outline of the reasoning.

Let us consider a person who privately holds opinion "X" but has, as  a result of pressure brought to bear on him publicly stated that he  believes "not X."

1. This person has two cognitions which, psychologically, do not fit  together: one of these is the knowledge that he believes "X," the other  the knowledge that he has publicly stated that he believes "not X." If  no factors other than his private opinion are considered it would  follow, at least in our culture, that if he believes "X" he would  publicly state "X." Hence, his cognition of his private belief is  dissonant with his cognition concerning his actual public statement.

2. Similarly, the knowledge that he has said "not X" is consonant  with (does fit together with) those cognitive elements corresponding to  the reasons, pressures, promises of rewards and/or threats of punishment  which induced him to say "not X."

3. In evaluating the total magnitude of dissonance one must take  account of both dissonances and consonances. Let us think of the sum of  all the dissonances involving some particular cognition as "D" and the  sum of all the consonances as "C." Then we might [p. 204] think of the  total magnitude of dissonance as being a function of "D" divided by "D"  plus "C."

Let us then see what can be said about the total magnitude of  dissonance in a person created by the knowledge that he said "not X" and  really believes "X." With everything else held constant, this total  magnitude of dissonance would decrease as the number and importance of  the pressures which induced him to say "not X" increased.

Thus, if the overt behavior was brought about by, say, offers of  reward or threats of punishment, the magnitude of dissonance is maximal  if these promised rewards or threatened punishments were just barely  sufficient to induce the person to say "not X." From this point on, as  the promised rewards or threatened punishment become larger, the  magnitude of dissonance becomes smaller.

4. One way in which the dissonance can be reduced is for the person  to change his private opinion so as to bring it into correspondence with  what he has said. One would consequently expect to observe such opinion  change after a person has been forced or induced to say something  contrary to his private opinion. Furthermore, since the pressure to  reduce dissonance will be a function of the magnitude of the dissonance,  the observed opinion change should be greatest when the pressure used to  elicit the overt behavior is just sufficient to do it.

The present experiment was designed to test this derivation under  controlled, laboratory conditions. in the experiment we varied the  amount of reward used to force persons to make a statement contrary to  their private views. The prediction [from 3 and 4 above] is that the  larger the reward given to the subject, the smaller will be the  subsequent opinion change.


Seventy-one male students in the introductory psychology course at  Stanford University were used in the experiment. In this course,  students are required to spend a certain number of hours as subjects (Ss)  in experiments. They choose among the available experiments by signing  their names on a sheet posted on the bulletin board which states the  nature of the experiment. The present experiment was listed as a  two-hour experiment dealing with "Measures of Performance."

During the first week of the course, when the requirement of serving  in experiments was announced and explained to the students, the  instructor also told them about a study that psychology department was  conducting. 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. They were  told that a sample of students would be interviewed after having served  asSs. They were urged to cooperate in these interviews by being  completely and honest. The importance of this announcement will become  clear shortly. It enabled us to measure the opinions of our Ss in a  context not directly connected with our experiment and in which we could  reasonably expect frank and honest expressions of opinion.

When theSarrived for the experiment on "Measures of  Performance" he had to wait for a few minutes in the secretary's office.  The experimenter (E) then came in, introducing himself to theSand, together, they walked into the laboratory room where theE  said:

This experiment usually takes a little over an hour but, of course,  we had to schedule it for two hours. Since we have that extra time,  the introductory psychology people asked if they could interview  some our subjects. [Offhand and conversationally.] Did they announce  that in class? I gather that they're interviewing some people who  have been in experiments. I don't know much about it. Anyhow, they  may want to interview you when you're through here.

With no further introduction or explanation theSwas shown  the first task, which involved putting 12 spools onto a tray, emptying  the tray, refilling it with spools, and so on. He was told to use one  hand and to work at his own speed. He did this for one-half hour. TheEthen removed the tray and spools and placed in front of theS  a board containing 48 square pegs. His task was to turn each peg a  quarter turn clockwise, then another quarter turn, and so on. He was  told again to use one band and to work at his own speed. TheS  worked at this task for another half hour.

While the S was working on these tasks theEsat, with a stop  watch in his hand, busily making notations on a sheet of paper. He did  so in order to make it convincing that this was [p. 205] what thcE  was interested in and that these tasks, and how theSworked on  them, was the total experiment. From our point of view the experiment  had hardly started. The hour which the S spent working on the  repetitive, monotonous tasks was intended to provide, for eachS  uniformly, an experience about which he would have a somewhat negative  opinion

After the half hour on the second task was over, theE  conspicuously set the stop watch back to zero, put it away, pushed his  chair back, lit a cigarette, and said:

O.K. Well, that's all we have in the experiment itself. I'd like to  explain what this has been all about so you'll have some idea of why  you were doing this. [Epauses.] Well, the way the experiment  is set up is this. There are actually two groups in the experiment.  In one, the group you were in, we bring the subject in and give him  essentially no introduction to the experiment. That is, all we tell  him is what he needs to know in order to do the tasks, and he has no  idea of what the experiment is all about, or what it's going to be  like, or anything like that. But in the other group, we have a  student that we've hired that works for us regularly, and what I do  is take him into the next room where the subject is waiting -- the  same room you were waiting in before -- and I introduce him as if he  had just finished being the subject in the experiment. That is, I  say: "This is so-and-so, who just finished the experiment, and I've  asked him to tell you a little of what it's about before you start.  The fellow who works for us then, in conversation with the next  subject, makes these points: [TheEthen produced a sheet  headed "For Group B" which had written on it: It was very enjoyable,  I had a lot of fun, I enjoyed myself, it was very interesting, it  was intriguing, it was exciting. TheEshowed this to theSand then proceeded with his false explanation of the purpose  of the experiment.] Now, of course, we have this student do this,  because if the experimenter does it, it doesn't look as realistic,  and what we're interested in doing is comparing how these two groups  do on the experiment -- the one with this previous expectation about  the experiment, and the other, like yourself, with essentially none.

Up to this point the procedure was identical forSs in all  conditions. From this point on they diverged somewhat. Three conditions  were run, Control, One Dollar, and Twenty Dollars as follows:

Control Condition


Is that fairly clear? [Pause.] Look, that fellow [looks at watch] I  was telling you about from the introductory psychology class said he  would get here a couple of minutes from now. Would you mind waiting  to see if he wants to talk to you? Fine. Why don't we go into the  other room to wait? [TheEleft theSin the  secretary's office for four minutes. He then returned and said:]1  OK. Let's check and see if he does want to talk to you.

One and Twenty Dollar Conditions


Is that fairly clear how it is set up and what we're trying to do?  [Pause.] Now, I also have a sort of strange thing to ask you. The  thing is this [Long pause, some confusion and uncertainty in the  following, with a degree of embarrassment on the part of theE.The mariner of theEcontrasted strongly with the  preceding unhesitant and assured false explanation of the  experiment. The point was to make it seem to theSthat this  was the first timeEhad done this and that he felt unsure of  himself.] The fellow who normally does this for us couldn't do it  today -- he just phoned in, and something or other came up for him  -- so we've been looking around for someone that we could hire to do  it for us. You see, we've got another subject waiting [looks at  watch] who is supposed to be in that other condition. Now Professor  --------, who is in charge of this experiment, suggested that  perhaps we could take a chance on your doing it for us. I'll tell  you what we had in mind: the thing is, if you could do it for us  now, then of course you would know how to do it, and if something  like this should ever come up again, that is, the regular fellow  couldn't make it, and we had a subject scheduled, it would be very  reassuring to us to know that we had somebody else we could call on  who knew how to do it. So, if you would be willing to do this for  us, we'd like to hire you to do it now and then be on call in the  future, if something like this should ever happen again. We can pay  you a dollar (twenty dollars) for doing this for us that is, for  doing it now and then being on call. Do you think you could do that  for us?

If theShesitated, theEsaid things like, "It will  only take a few minutes," "The regular person is pretty reliable; this  is the first time he has missed," or "If we needed you we could phone  you a day or two in advance; if you couldn't make it of course, we  wouldn't expect you to come." After theSagreed to do it, theEgave him the previously mentioned sheet of paper headed "For Group  B" and asked him to read it through again. TheEthen paid theSone dollar (twenty dollars), made out a hand-written receipt form,  and asked theSto sign it. He then said:

OK., the way we'll do it is this. As I said, the next subject should  be by now. I think the next one is a girl. I'll take you into the  next room and introduce you to her, saying that you've just finished  the experiment and that we've asked you to tell her a little about  it. And what we want you to do is just sit down and get into a  conversation with her and try to get [p. 206] across the points on  that sheet of paper. I'll leave you alone and come back after a  couple of minutes. O.K.?

TheEthen took theSinto the secretary's office where  he had previously waited and where the nextSwas waiting. (The  secretary had left the office.) He introduced the girl and theS  to one another saying that theShad just finished the experiment  and would tell her something about it. He then left saying he would  return in a couple of minutes. The girl, an undergraduate hired for this  role, said little until theSmade some positive remarks about  the experiment and then said that she was surprised because a friend of  hers had taken the experiment the week before and had told her that it  was boring and that she ought to try to get out of it. MostSs  responded by saying something like "Oh, no, it's really very  interesting. I'm sure you'll enjoy it." The girl, after this listened  quietly, accepting and agreeing to everything theStold her. The  discussion between theSand the girl was recorded on a hidden  tape recorder.

After two minutes theEreturned, asked the girl to go into  the experimental room, thanked theSfor talking to the girl,  wrote down his phone number to continue the fiction that we might call  on him again in the future and then said: "Look, could we check and see  if that fellow from introductory psychology wants to talk to you?"

From this point on, the procedure for all three conditions was once  more identical. As theEand theSstarted to walk to the  office where the interviewer was, theEsaid: "Thanks very much  for working on those tasks for us. I hope you did enjoy it. Most of our  subjects tell us afterward that they found it quite interesting You get  a chance to see how you react to the tasks and so forth." This short  persuasive communication was made in all conditions in exactly the same  way. The reason for doing it, theoretically, was to make it easier for  anyone who wanted to persuade himself that the tasks had been, indeed,  enjoyable.

When they arrived at the interviewer's office, theEasked the  interviewer whether or not he wanted to talk to theS. The  interviewer said yes, theEshook hands with theS, said  good-bye, and left. The interviewer, of course, was always kept in  complete ignorance of which condition theSwas in. The interview  consisted of four questions, on each of which theSwas first  encouraged to talk about the matter and was then asked to rate his  opinion or reaction on an 11-point scale. The questions are as follows:

1. Were the tasks interesting and enjoyable? In what way? In what  way were they not? Would you rate how you feel about them on a scale  from -5 to +5 where -5 means they were extremely dull and boring, +5  means they were extremely interesting and enjoyable, and zero means  they were neutral, neither interesting nor uninteresting.
2. Did the experiment give you an opportunity to learn about your  own ability to perform these tasks? In what way? In what way not?  Would you rate how you feel about this on a scale from 0 to 10 where  0 means you learned nothing and 10 means you learned a great deal.
3. From what you know about the experiment and the tasks involved in  it, would you say the experiment was measuring anything important?  That is, do you think the results may have scientific value? In what  way? In what way not? Would you rate your opinion on this matter on  a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 means the results have no scientific  value or importance and 10 means they have a great deal of value and  importance.
4. Would you have any desire to participate in another similar  experiment? Why? Why not? Would you rate your desire to participate  in a similar experiment again on a scale from -5 to +5, where -5  means you would definitely dislike to participate, +5 means you  would definitely like to participate, and 0 means you have no  particular feeling about it one way or the other.

As may be seen, the questions varied in how directly relevant they  were to what theShad told the girl. This point will be  discussed further in connection with the results.

At the close of the interview theSwas asked what he thought  the experiment was about and, following this, was asked directly whether  or not he was suspicious of anything and, if so, what he was suspicious  of. When the interview was over, the interviewer brought theS  back to the experimental room where theEwas waiting together  with the girl who had posed as the waitingS. (In the control  condition, of course, the girl was not there.) The true purpose of the  experiment was then explained to theSin detail, and the reasons  for each of the various steps in the experiment were explained carefully  in relation to the true purpose. All experimentalSs in both One  Dollar and Twenty Dollar conditions were asked, after this explanation,  to return the money they had [p. 207] been given. AllSs, without  exception, were quite willing to return the money.

The data from 11 of the 71Ss in the experiment had to be  discarded for the following reasons:

1. FiveSs (three in the One Dollar and two in the Twenty  Dollar condition) indicated in the interview that they were suspicious  about having been paid to tell the girl the experiment was fun and  suspected that that was the real purpose of the experiment.

2. TwoSs (both in the One Dollar condition) told the girl  that they had been hired, that the experiment was really boring but they  were supposed to say it was fun.

3. ThreeSs (one in the One Dollar and two in the Twenty  Dollar condition) refused to take the money and refused to be hired.

4. OneS(in the One Dollar condition), immediately after  having talked to the girl, demanded her phone number saying he would  call her and explain things, and also told theEhe wanted to  wait until she was finished so he could tell her about it.

These 11Ss were, of course, run through the total experiment  anyhow and the experiment was explained to them afterwards. Their data,  however, are not included in the analysis.

Summary of Design

There remain, for analysis, 20Ss in each of the thee  conditions. Let us review these briefly: 1.Control condition.TheseSs were treated identically in all respects to theSs  in the experimental conditions, except that they were never asked to,  and never did, tell the waiting girl that the experimental tasks were  enjoyable and lots of fun. 2.One Dollar condition.These Ss were  hired for one dollar to tell a waitingSthat tasks, which were  really rather dull and boring, were interesting, enjoyab1e, and lots of  fun. 3.Twenty Dollar condition. TheseSs were hired for  twenty dollars to do the same thing.


The major results of the experiment are summarized in Table 1 which  lists, separately for each of the three experimental conditions, the  average rating which theSs gave at the end of each question on  the interview. We will discuss each of the questions on the interview  separately, because they were intended to measure different things. One  other point before we proceed to examine the data. In all the  comparisons, the Control condition should be regarded as a baseline from  which to evaluate the results in the other two conditions. The Control  condition gives us, essentially, the reactions ofSs to the tasks  and their opinions about the experiment as falsely explained to them,  without the experimental introduction of dissonance. The data from the  other conditions may be viewed, in a sense, as changes from this  baseline.

How Enjoyable the Tasks Were

The average ratings on this question, presented in the first row of  figures in Table 1, are the results most important to the experiment.  These results are the ones most directly relevant to the specific  dissonance which we experimentally created It will be recalled that the  tasks were purposely arranged to be rather boring and monotonous. And,  indeed, in the Control condition the average rating was -.45, somewhat  on the negative side of the neutral point.

In the other two conditions, however, theSs told someone that  these tasks were interesting and enjoyab1e. The resulting dissonance  could, of course, most directly be reduced by persuading themselves that  the tasks were, indeed, interesting and enjoyable. In the One Dollar  condition, since the magnitude of dissonance was high, the pressure to  reduce this dissonance would also be high. In this condition, the  average rating was +1.35, considerably on the positive side and  significantly different from the Control condition at the .02 level[2]  (t= 2.48).

[p. 208] In the Twenty Dollar condition, where less dissonance was  created experimentally because of the greater importance of the  consonant relations, there is correspondingly less evidence of  dissonance reduction. The average rating in this condition is only -.05,  slightly and not significantly higher than the Control condition. The  difference between the One Dollar and Twenty Dollar conditions is  significant at the .03 level (t= 2.22). In short, when anS  was induced, by offer of reward, to say something contrary to his  private opinion, this private opinion tended to change so as to  correspond more closely with what he had said. The greater the reward  offered (beyond what was necessary to elicit the behavior) the smaller  was the effect.

Desire to Participate in a Similar Experiment

The results from this question are shown in the last row of Table 1.  This question is less directly related to the dissonance that was  experimentally created for theSs. Certainly, the more  interesting and enjoyable they felt the tasks were, the greater would be  their desire to participate in a similar experiment. But other factors  would enter also. Hence, one would expect the results on this question  to be very similar to the results on "how enjoyable the tasks were" but  weaker. Actually, the result, as may be seen in the table, are in  exactly the same direction, and the magnitude of the mean differences is  fully as large as on the first question. The variability is greater,  however, and the differences do not yield high levels of statistical  significance. The difference between the One Dollar condition (+1.20)  and the Control condition (-.62) is significant at the .08 level (t  = 1.78). The difference between the One Dollar condition and the Twenty  Dollar condition (-.25) reaches only the .15 level of significance (t  = 1.46).

The Scientific Importance of the Experiment

This question was included because there was a chance that  differences might emerge. There are, after all, other ways in which the  experimentally created dissonance could be reduced. For example, one way  would be for theSto magnify for himself the value of the reward  he obtained. This, however, was unlikely in this experiment because  money was used for the reward and it is undoubtedly difficult to  convince oneself that one dollar is more than it really is. There is  another possible way,however. TheSs were given a very  good reason, in addition to being paid, for saying what they did to the  waiting girl. TheSs were told it was necessary for the  experiment. The dissonance could, consequently, be reduced by magnifying  the importance of this cognition. The more scientifically important they  considered the experiment to be, the less was the total magnitude of  dissonance. It is possible, then, that the results on this question,  shown in the third row of figures in Table 1, might reflect dissonance  reduction.

The results are weakly in line with what one would expect if the  dissonance were somewhat reduced in this manner. The One Dollar  condition is higher than the other two. The difference between the One  and Twenty Dollar conditions reaches the .08 level of significance on a  two-tailed test (t= 1.79). The difference .between the One  Dollar and Control conditions is not impressive at all (t=  1.21). The result that the Twenty Dollar condition is actually lower  than the Control condition is undoubtedly a matter of chance (t=  0.58).

How Much They Learned From the Experiment

The results on this question are shown in the second row of figures  in Table 1. The question was included because, as far as we could see,  it had nothing to do with the dissonance that was experimentally created  and could not be used for dissonance reduction. One would then expect no  differences at all among the three conditions. We felt it was important  to show that the effect was not a completely general one but was  specific to the content of the dissonance which was created. As can be  readily seen in Table 1, there are only negligible differences among  conditions. The highesttvalue for any of these differences is  only 0.48.


We mentioned in the introduction that Janis and King (1954; 1956) in  explaining their findings, proposed an explanation in terms of the  self-convincing effect of mental rehearsal [p. 209] and thinking up new  arguments by the person who had to improvise a speech. Kelman (1953), in  the previously mentioned study, in attempting to explain the unexpected  finding that the persons who complied in the moderate reward condition  changed their opinion more than in the high reward condition, also  proposed the same kind of explanation. If the results of our experiment  are to be taken as strong corroboration of the theory of cognitive  dissonance, this possible alternative explanation must be dealt with.

Specifically, as applied to our results, this a1ternative explanation  would maintain that perhaps, for some reason, theSs in the One  Dollar condition worked harder at telling the waiting girl that the  tasks were fun and enjoyable. That is, in the One Dollar condition they  may have rehearsed it more mentally, thought up more ways of saying it,  may have said it more convincingly, and so on. Why this might have been  the case is, of course, not immediately apparent. One might expect:  that, in the Twenty Dollar condition, having been paid more, they would  try to do a better job of it than in the One Dollar condition. But  nevertheless, the possibility exists that theSs n the One Dollar  condition may have improvised more.

Because of the desirability of investigating this possible  alternative explanation, we recorded on a tape recorder the conversation  between eachSand the girl. These recordings were transcribed  and then rated, by two independent raters, on five dimensions. The  ratings were of course done in ignorance of which condition eachS  was in. The reliabilities of these ratings, that is, the correlations  between the two independent raters, ranged from .61 to .88, with an  average reliability of .71. The five ratings were:

1. The content of what theSsaidbeforethe girl made  the remark that her friend told her it was boring. The stronger theS's  positive statements about the tasks, and the more ways in which he said  they were interesting and enjoyable, the higher the rating

2. The content of what theSsaidafterthe girl made  the above-mentioned remark. This was rated in the same way as for the  content before the remark.

3. A similar rating of the over-all content of what theS  said.

4. A rating of how persuasive and convincing theSwas in what  he said and the way in which he said it.

5. A rating of the amount of time in the discussion that theS  spent discussing the tasks as opposed to going off into irrelevant  things.

The mean ratings for the One Dollar and Twenty Dollar conditions,  averaging the ratings of the two independent raters, are presented in  Table 2. It is clear from examining the table that, in all cases, the  Twenty Dollar condition is slightly higher The differences are small,  however, and only on the rating of "amount of time" does the difference  between the two conditions even approach significance. We are certainly  justified in concluding that theSs in the One Dollar condition  did not improvise more nor act more convincingly. Hence, the alternative  explanation discussed above cannot account for the findings.


Recently, Festinger (1957) bas proposed a theory concerning cognitive  dissonance. Two derivations from this theory are tested here. These are:

1. 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.

2. The larger the pressure used to elicit the [p. 210] overt behavior  (beyond the minimum needed to elicit it) the weaker will be the  above-mentioned tendency.

A laboratory experiment was designed to test these derivations.  Subjects were subjected to a boring experience and then paid to tell  someone that the experience had been interesting and enjoyable. The  amount of money paid the subject was varied. The private opinions of the  subjects concerning the experience were then determined.

The results strongly corroborate the theory that was tested.


FESTINGER, L. Atheory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston, Ill:  Row Peterson, 1957.

JANIS, I.L. & KING, B.T. The influence of role-playing on opinion  change.J. abnorm. soc. Psychol., 1954,49, 211-218.

KELMAN, H. Attitude change as a function of response restrictionHum. Relat., 1953,6, 185-214.

KING, B.T. & JANIS, I.L. Comparison of the effectiveness of  improvised versus non-improvised role-playing in producing opinion  change.Hum. Relat., 1956,9, 177-186.

Received November 18, 1957.


[1] The experiment reported here was done as part of a program of  research supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to  the senior author. We wish to thank Leonard Hommel, Judson Mills, and  Robert Terwilliger for their help in designing and carrying out the  experiment. We would also like to acknowledge the help of Ruth Smith and  Marilyn M. Miller.

[2] All statistical tests referred to in this paper are two-tailed.

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