Attitude change and attitude attribution: Effects of incentive, choice, and consequences

Bobby J. Calder*, Michael Ross, Chester A. Insko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Conducted an experiment with 108 female a pro- to reveal more clearly the conditions under which insincere behavior opposing direct (reinforcement) and inverse (dissonance) relationships between incentive and attitude change. Results indicate that for either effect to occur, insincere behavior (telling a waiting S that a dull task was interesting) must cause aversive consequences. Given aversive consequences, a dissonance effect occurred only when Ss had a choice as to whether or not to perform the insincere behavior. Conversely, a reinforcement effect results only when Ss were required to perform the insincere behavior. The Incentive × Choice × Consequences interaction resolves much of the inconsistency in the literature dealing with attitude change following insincere behavior. The experiment also explored the attitude attributions of Os. Each O was paired with an actor-S. The O estimated the actor-S's attitude responses (enjoyableness of the dull task) after he had watched the actor-S perform the dull task and the insincere behavior. Os' attitude attributions paralleled the dissonance and reinforcement effects manifested by the actor-Ss to a remarkable extent. In violation of all existing attribution theories, however, O attributed the least enjoyment under the high-choice condition. In terms of the accuracy of these attributions, within the low-choice condition, Os' attributions did not differ from the actor-Ss' attitude reports; however, within the high-choice condition, actor-Ss rated the task as considerably more enjoyable than the Os predicted. The importance of these findings for theories of attribution is discussed. (47 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-99
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1973


  • attitude change &
  • attribution, college students
  • choice &
  • consequences, insincere role behavior &
  • incentive &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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