We explored the emotional and attitudinal consequences of personal attitude-behavior discrepancies using a religious version of the hypocrisy paradigm. We induced cognitive dissonance in participants (n = 206) by making them feel hypocritical for advocating certain religious behaviors that they had not recently engaged in to their own satisfaction. In Experiment 1, this resulted in higher levels of self-reported guilt and shame compared to the control condition. Experiment 2 further showed that a religious self-affirmation task eliminated the guilt and shame. In Experiment 3, participants boosted their religious attitudes as a result of dissonance, and both religious and non-religious self-affirmation tasks eliminated this effect. The findings provide evidence that dissonance induced through religious hypocrisy can result in guilt and shame as well as an attitude bolstering effect, as opposed to the attitude reconciliation effect that is prevalent in previous dissonance research.
- attitude change
- cognitive dissonance