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The Effects of Censorship on Attitude Change: The Influence of Censor and Communication Characteristics1


  • 1

    This research was supported in part by a University of North Carolina Research Council grant and a National Science Foundation research grant (GS-37062) awarded to Stephen Worchel.

2 Requests for reprints should be sent to Stephen Worchel, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901.


The effects of censor characteristics and audiences' initial agreement with a censored communication on attitude change and desire to hear a communication were investigated. Subjects were informed that a communication taking a position with which they had originally agreed or disagreed had been censored. The censor was either an attractive or unattractive agent and his expertise on the topic of the speech was either high or low. The results indicated that in all cases except one, censorship led to an increased desire to hear the communication and attitude change toward the position of the communication. In the one exceptional case, when an attractive expert censor forbade a communication with which the audience disagreed, the subjects decreased their desire to hear the speech and did not change their attitudes on the topic of the communication. The results were interpreted as indicating that censorship arouses both reactance and balancing attempts but that balancing will be observed only in limited situations.