Response to Bill of Rights Paraphrases as Influenced by the Hip or Straight Attire of the Opinion Solicitor1


  • William Samuel

    1. Sacramento State College
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      Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. William Samuel, Department of Psychology, Sacramento State College, 6000 Jay Street, Sacramento, California 95819.

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    The author expresses his deepest appreciation to a dedicated group of students: Perry Blackman, Charlie Campbell, Mimi Click, Kathy Haskell, Neal Hawkins, Michele Johnson, Mike Kiernan, Paula Lowrey, Charleen Mounts, Marylynn Piccolo, Bill Pottorf, and John Sherratt.


A sample of 375 white middle class residents of suburban Sacramento was randomly distributed among 3 experimental conditions of exposure to paraphrases of the Bill of Rights. The paraphrases were in the form of letters to the “Subcommittee on Crime and Disorder” of the California State Senate. A far greater proportion of subjects would endorse a “negative”, somewhat authoritarian version of the Bill of Rights than would sign either a “real” paraphrase of the original text or a rather equivocal “wishy-washy” bill. A minority of those shown the “real” bill would sign it. Solicitors dressed as “straights” were more likely to elicit signatures from subjects than were “hips”. The latter effect was observable, however, only for subjects in the negative and to a lesser extent the wishy-washy bill conditions. When the “real” bill was presented the attire of the solicitor made no difference. While an alternative interpretation was viable, the results were explained in terms of reactance (Brehm, 1966) and Rokeach's (Rokeach & Mezei, 1966) hypothesis that liking is mediated by inferred congruity of beliefs.