The Role of Action in Attitude Change


Kelman, Herbert C. 1980. “The Role of Action in Attitude Change.” University of Nebraska Press. University of Nebraska Press. Copy at
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Date Published:

Feb 1, 1980


The relationship of action to attitude change has been a central and recurrent theme in my work ever since my doctoral dissertation (Kelman, 1953). I have written several theoretical papers on this issue over the years (Kelman, 1962a, 1974a, 1974b, 1978), and during the 1960s several colleagues and I were engaged in an experimental program on the relationship of discrepant action and attitude change. Some of the results of this program are described in Kelman and Baron (1974), but most of the experiments are still unpublished. The relationship between action and attitude change has also entered importantly into my work in various applied contexts, including psychotherapy (Kelman, 1963), international exchange (Kelman, 1962b, 1975), and conflict resolution (Kelman, 1972; Kelman & Cohen, 1979). I therefore welcome the opportunity, provided by the Nebraska Symposium, to draw together some of my ideas in this area and to distill some of the generalizations that have emerged from my work. I am particularly intrigued with noting some of the continuities and changes in my thinking over the years, as I have moved back and forth between experimental and applied work. It is exciting to observe the way these two lines of activity inform and stimulate each other and thus contribute to theoretical refinement.

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Last updated on 12/05/2016