Two experiments tested whether expression of emotions from which motivated cognitive biases presumably provide protection would reduce the extent of such biases. In Study 1, we hypothesized that expressing any tension produced by writing a counterattitudinal essay would reduce the extent of dissonance-reducing attitude change. To test this hypothesis, Ss were induced to write an essay arguing for higher tuition. High-choice Ss were either encouraged to express their emotions, to suppress them, or to do neither. As expected, high-choice-express Ss exhibited the least attitude change. Study 2 tested the hypothesis that expressing fear of cancer would reduce the extent of defensive distancing from cancer patients, but expressing sympathy would not. Although control Ss clearly distanced from cancer patients, fear-expression Ss did not. Implications for understanding the role of affect in defense are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science