Vicarious Cognitive Dissonance: Changing Attitudes by Experiencing Another’s Pain
Can people experience dissonance and undergo attitude change because of the actions of others? New research in the domain of cognitive dissonance suggests that the answer is yes. It has long been established that when people behave in ways that are at variance with their attitudes, they experience the unpleasant affective state of dissonance, and their attitudes change as a consequence. We now know that dissonance can also be aroused vicariously. Observers who witness others acting in a counterattitudinal manner may, under appropriate conditions, experience dissonance and be motivated to change their own attitudes.