A Multilab Replication of the Induced-Compliance Paradigm of Cognitive Dissonance


According to cognitive-dissonance theory, performing counterattitudinal behavior produces a state of dissonance that people are motivated to resolve, usually by changing their attitude to be in line with their behavior. One of the most popular experimental paradigms used to produce such attitude change is the induced-compliance paradigm. Despite its popularity, the replication crisis in social psychology and other fields, as well as methodological limitations associated with the paradigm, raise concerns about the robustness of classic studies in this literature. We therefore conducted a multilab constructive replication of the induced-compliance paradigm based on Croyle and Cooper (Experiment 1). In a total of 39 labs from 19 countries and 14 languages, participants (N = 4,898) were assigned to one of three conditions: writing a counterattitudinal essay under high choice, writing a counterattitudinal essay under low choice, or writing a neutral essay under high choice. The primary analyses failed to support the core hypothesis: No significant difference in attitude was observed after writing a counterattitudinal essay under high choice compared with low choice. However, we did observe a significant difference in attitude after writing a counterattitudinal essay compared with writing a neutral essay. Secondary analyses revealed the pattern of results to be robust to data exclusions, lab variability, and attitude assessment. Additional exploratory analyses were conducted to test predictions from cognitive-dissonance theory. Overall, the results call into question whether the induced-compliance paradigm provides robust evidence for cognitive dissonance.

Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science
Quinn Cabooter
Quinn Cabooter
Junior Researcher

MSc. Theoretical and experimental psychology.