Cognitive complexity and the affects of thought on attitude change

Daniel O'Keefe1, Robert Brady2
1University of Illinois, United States
2University of Arkansas, United States
Cite this article:  O'Keefe, D., & Brady, R. (1980). Cognitive complexity and the affects of thought on attitude change. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 8, 49-56.

Volume 8 Issue 1 | e278 | Published: February 1980 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1980.8.1.49

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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.
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