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Effects of attitude expression versus dissimulation on attitude strength

Authors Johar, Gita Venkataramani
Sengupta, Jaideep
Issue Date 1998-10
Summary In three experiments, we examine the effects of attitude dissimulation (i.e., expressing false attitudes) on various dimensions of attitude strength. We propose that dissimulation involves access of true attitudes which serves to increase true attitude accessibility. At the same time, dissimulation creates an additional link in memory between the object and the false attitude, which serves to decrease true attitude accessibility. We hypothesize that the first positive effect will prevail in the case of initially strong (but not weak) true attitudes because the strength of the true attitude-object link can counteract the effects of the additional false attitude-object link. Experiment 1 documents that lying about one's attitude toward a brand can increase accessibility of initial (true) attitudes to the same extent as truthful attitude expression, especially if these attitudes are strongly held. Results from Experiment 2 reveal that elaboration on weak attitudes at the time of dissimulation eliminates the differential impact of dissimulation on strong versus weak attitudes. Experiment 3 demonstrates that these effects generalize to important consequences of attitude strength, namely attitude-behavior correspondence and attitude persistence. Taken together, our experiments provide insight into the processes underlying the effects of dissimulation on attitude strength and highlight the potentially insidious effects of lying about one's attitudes.
Language English
Format Working paper
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