Approaching opponents and leaving supporters: Adjusting physical proximity to reduce cognitive dissonance

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David C. Vaidis
Dominique Oberlé
Cite this article:  Vaidis, D., & Oberlé, D. (2014). Approaching opponents and leaving supporters: Adjusting physical proximity to reduce cognitive dissonance. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 42(7), 1091-1098.


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In our study of cognitive dissonance 59 students adjusted their physical proximity with an opposing other to manage dissonance. Participants wrote a counterattitudinal essay (vs. proattitudinal), then each of them was told he/she had to discuss the topic with another student who was against the current topic (vs. in favor of). While the experimenter allegedly fetched the other student the participant set up the room by installing 2 chairs. The distance between the 2 chairs was used to measure the proximity with the other. The results showed that in the dissonance condition participants set greater physical proximity when the other disagreed with their initial attitude and less physical proximity when the other was supportive of their initial attitude. We suggest further research is conducted to confirm the use of proximity as a means of dissonance reduction.

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