The effect of reversibility of choice on attitude change in cognitive dissonance: Free choice paradigm

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D student at Shahid Beheshti University

2 Faculty member


AbstractAim. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of reversibility of choice on attitude change in the "free choice paradigm" of cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957). Methods. This study was a quasi-experimental study conducted in a between-subject pretest- posttest with control group design. In accordance with Delavar’s (2016) suggestion, in order to place 15 participants in each group, sixty students (from among 650) at the Faculty of Psychology of Shahid Beheshti University in the academic year 2014-2015 were selected. Selection was based on participants’ availability. These were then divided into groups of easy (N=30) and difficult (N=30) choice which were divided into groups of reversible (N=15) and irreversible (N=15) choice. Groups were matched on age and gender. They were given eight psychological tests which were selected based on the degree of complexity to evaluate them before and after choice. Reversible group could change their choice after they made it. The attitude change was assessed by a researcher-made questionnaire, which was made by the researchers of this study to be use in pretest and posttest. After removing six subjects because of incomplete questionnaires, the data for 54 subjects was analyzed by ANOVA. Results. Analysis showed that in difficult choices groups, the attitude of irreversible choice group got significantly more positive about the selected choice, whereas the attitude of the reversible group got more negative (F= 29.48, P= 0.001). Conclusion. These results support the idea that positive attitude change in free choice paradigm only occurs in irreversible situations. Therefore, it is better for sellers and service providers to not facilitate replacement very much.


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