Openness To Experience, Strength Of Sense Of Self, And Cognitive Dissonance In A Counter-attitudinal Advocacy Paradigm
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The study was designed to investigate whether personality variables, especially the strength of individuals' sense of self, moderated dissonance reduction behavior in a counter-attitudinal advocacy paradigm. The study included 165 undergraduate participants in a laboratory sample and 182 in an online sample. The participants in both samples completed a series of personality measures before writing a counter-attitudinal essay in favor of a proposed tuition increase. The results indicated that the manipulation of perceived choice had an effect on participants' attitude toward the proposed tuition increase over and above their pre-attitude and personality traits. On the other hand, some personality traits were found to be associated with the final attitude. The strength of participants' sense of self negatively predicted their final attitude across conditions after the initial-attitude was controlled; similarly, the participants' degree of psychological discomfort also negatively predicted their final attitude and the amount of attitude change. In addition, openness to experience was found to be associated with prospective cognitive dissonance (i.e., disagree to write the counter-attitudinal essay) for the topic of a diagnostic exam, but not for the topic of a tuition increase, when a face-to-face social present was absent. Moreover, the linguistic content analyses of the participants' essay writings revealed that certain types of words were used more frequently in certain dissonance conditions (e.g., words of positive emotion/optimism were used more frequently in high-choice compliance condition). Limitations and future directions of the study were also discussed.