Forced Compliance Cognitive Consequences of Research Paper

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You see, we've got another subject waiting [looks at watch] who is supposed to be in that other condition. Now Professor -, who is in charge of this experiment, suggested that perhaps we could take a chance on your doing it for us. I'll tell you what we had in mind: the thing is, if you could do it for us now, then of course you would know how to do it, and if something like this should ever come up again, that is, the regular fellow couldn't make it, and we had a subject scheduled, it would be very reassuring to us to know that we had somebody else we could call on who knew how to do it."

The point to be made here is, gain, to see how far the experimenter could push a subject to make a point, but also to see just how far one could go before one's opinions kicked in and he either stopped complying or reverted back to original beliefs. In the case presented here, with the subject analyzed in detail, it seems that he was able to fulfill all the requests that were thrown at him, and this may be a note on personality, but also a statement that can only supplant the one made above, stating that a persona will do anything to ensure 'symmetry' and reconciliation of opposing, unknown beliefs with existing opinions.

Summary of Design and Results

Perhaps this last section is also the most interesting. Before starting, however, it is useful to summarize the design in order to better quantify results. As the authors state, there are 20 subjects (Ss) in each of three conditions: control, one dollar and twenty dollars. In the control condition, the Ss were treated identically and never interacted with the last step of the experiment, namely talking to a girl chosen to whom they could explain what the experiment is about. The one-dollar condition states that Ss were hired for one dollar to tell a waiting subject that tasks, which were dull and boring, were very interesting
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and fun. The third condition, the 20 dollar condition, was one in which Ss were hired for $20 to tell the exact same thing to the girl, namely that tasks were enjoyable, when they really were quite boring.

The results of this interesting experiment show that an individual had to discuss four questions, which included how enjoyable the tasks were, how much was learned, what the scientific important was, and how one could participate in similar experiments. One would expect that with more reward the feedback to the female hire would be more and more positive. Yet the study conclusively found the following:

"In short, when an S. was induced, by offer of reward, to say something contrary to his private opinion, this private opinion tended to change so as to correspond more closely with what he had said. The greater the reward offered (beyond what was necessary to elicit the behavior) the smaller was the effect."


The study exemplified here by the Stanford University academics aims to propose a theory concerning cognitive dissonance. The study thus questions previous experiments, and aims to see whether a person can be induced to say something contrary to his or her private opinion, as well as what kind of pressure can be utilized in order to elicit some type of behavior that a subject would not necessarily elicit himself or herself at will. The subsequent experiment subjected individuals to boring experimental conditions and paid them to tell others that the experience had been enjoyable. It was found that although many students would go ahead and comply with these requests, the amount of money they received for the 'job', which increased from $1 to $20, and more specifically the increase, made no difference in how persuasive the individuals were in lauding the experiment. The study thus concluded that in fact a person will not be motivated by financial means but rather by a need to reconcile his or her own beliefs with…

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