When less is more and more is less: The paradoxical metacognitive effects of counterarguing

Nathan Walter*, Jonathan Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


According to the cognitive perspective, the generation of counterarguments is a key obstacle to persuasion. Following the metacognitive view, however, the experience of difficulty that accompanies increased counterarguing may benefit persuasion. These two contrasting predictions were evaluated in two experiments (N1 = 392; N2 = 210) by manipulating the instructions of thought-listing tasks following exposure to a testimonial that advocated for Physician-Assisted Suicide. Results for participants low-in-NfC supported the cognitive prediction, whereby generating many counterarguments (7) led to less favorable attitudes toward PAS, whereas fewer counterarguments (2) engendered more positive attitudes. In contrast, among participants high in NfC, increased counterarguing (7) resulted in more favorable attitudes toward PAS, while fewer counterarguments (2) were translated into greater opposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-397
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019


  • Persuasion
  • counterarguing
  • metacognitions
  • need-for-cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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