When Dissonance Intervenes: Effects of Perceived Moral Weight and Issue Opinion on Self-Enhancement of Opinion Objectivity

Publication Date

Fall 2007


A total of 93 participants from a religiously-affiliated institution and 120 from a state university indicated which of two opinions they would choose on four morally-based topics and five possible dissonance-producing topics. Participants also estimated how well they thought they examined both sides of each issue when developing their final opinions and how well another student considered both sides of the issue. For the moral issues, participants from both populations exhibited greater self-enhancement when the other student disagreed with the participant, but further analysis of the dissonance issues revealed a significant interaction between the opinion of the participant and the opinion of the other student. When participants professed the morally stringent alternative, self-enhancement of opinion objectivity was significantly higher when the student disagreed with them compared to when the student agreed with them. However, the reverse effect was found for those participants who chose the less stringent opinion, but only for the religiously-affiliated students. Results are discussed in terms of different schema used for processing moral vs. dissonance topics, and how perceptions of morality may lead to the formation of dissonance.


Cognitive dissonance; Students--Psychology; Church college students

Publication Title

Journal of Psychology and Christianity





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