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COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY AND THE EFFECTS OF THOUGHT ON ATTITUDE CHANGE1

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Subjects varying in cognitive complexity rated 35 six-trait sets according to how much they would like a person who had the qualities listed; then each subject re-read one set, thought about the person described, and wrote an impression of the person and re-rated the person on an evaluative scale. Each subject then completed the same procedures for a second trait set as a same-subjects replication. Contrary to Abraham Tesser's explanation of the effects of thought on attitude change, the attitudes of cognitively complex subjects were not more likely to polarize after thought: no differences between complex and noncomplex subjects were obtained with the original set, and with the replication set noncomplex subjects were more likely to polarize. The results also suggest limitations on the generality and powerfulness of the polarization phenomenon.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1980

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