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Abstract

It is argued that the standard manipulation of free choice in a forced compliance situation has fostered confusion between the two different types of choices offered to subjects, namely commitment or non-commitment to compliance with the experimenter and choice of counter-attitudinal activity per se. From a theoretical viewpoint, the two choices have very different implications. The former is a prerequisite to dissonance arousal; the latter may bring about consonant cognitions which reduce the dissonance ratio. Two experiments which separated these two choices confirmed the above predictions, derived from a radical conception of the dissonance theory (Beauvois and Joule, 1981, 1994). The results are inconsistent with the reinterpretation of dissonance effects in self-perception terms.