Person’s Private Ments

WHAT happens to a person’s private not conclusive. One of the major weaknesses of opinion if he is forced to do or say the data is that not all subjects in the experi- something contrary to that opin- ment made an overt statement contrary to ion? Only recently has there been, any experi- their private opinion in order to obtain the mental work related to this question. Two stud- offered reward. What is more, as one might ies reported by Janis and King expect, the percentage of subjects who com- clearly showed that, at least under some condi- plied increased as the size of the offered reward tions, the private opinion changes so as to bring increased. Thus, with self-selection of who it into closer correspondence with the overt did and who did not make the required overt behavior the person was forced to perform. statement and with varying percentages of Specifically, they showed that if a person is subjects in the different conditions who did forced to improvise a speech supporting a point make the required statement, no interpreta- of view with which he disagrees, his private tion of the data can be unequivocal. opinion moves toward the position advocated Recently, Festinger proposed a theory in the speech. The observed opinion change is concerning cognitive dissonance from which greater than for persons who only hear the come a number of derivations about opinion speech or for persons who read a prepared change following forced compliance. Since speech with emphasis solely on elocution and these derivations are stated in detail by Fest- manner of delivery. The authors of these two inger, we will here give only a studies explain their results mainly in terms of brief outline of the reasoning. mental rehearsal and thinking up new argu- Let us consider a person who privately holds ments. Inthisway, they propose, theperson who opinion “X” but has, as a result of pressure is forced to improvise a speech convinces brought to bear on him, publicly stated that himself. They present some evidence, which is he believes “not X.” not altogether conclusive, in support of this 1. This person has two cognitions which, explanation. We will have more to say con- psychologically, do not fit together: one of cerning this explanation in discussing the these is the knowledge that he believes “X,” results of our experiment. the other the knowledge that he has publicly

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