Study Conducted in 1957 at
Idea: Back in 1957, Stanford University conducted an experiment where they wanted to research cognitive dissonance – a concept that refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. Researchers Leon Festinger and James Merrill Carlsmith asked the participants to perform a series of boring tasks for extended periods of time and observed their attitudes, which were mostly negative. They then paid the participants either $1 or $20 if they told the ones waiting in the lobby that the tasks were interesting.
Result: Nearly all of the participants ended up persuading the ones waiting that the experiment would be fun. In the end, all of them were asked to rate the tasks, and the ones that were paid $1 rated the tedious tasks as more enjoyable than the ones that were paid $20 to lie. It turned out that being paid $1 was not a sufficient incentive for lying, and the people experienced dissonance which they could only overcome by pretending the tasks were interesting and enjoyable. The ones that were paid $20 experienced no dissonance.