When Resistance Is Futile: Consequences of Failed Counterarguing for Attitude Certainty

Derek D. Rucker*, Richard E. Petty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


This research tests the notion that attitudes after a failed attempt to counterargue may be stronger than attitudes after undirected thinking. Specifically, failed counterarguing may be accompanied by unique metacognitions that serve to strengthen the attitude. The present research examines this issue by giving participants a very strong message and instructing them to counterargue or simply think about the message. Across several experiments, attitudes were as favorable when individuals were trying to counterargue as when they were simply thinking, indicating that counterarguing failed to instill any extra resistance. However, attitudes were held with greater certainty following failed counterarguing compared with following undirected thinking. Furthermore, attitudes following failed counterarguing were more predictive of subsequent behavioral intentions. The metacognitions that follow failed counterarguing are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-235
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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