Reactance is a motivational reaction to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away their choices or limiting the range of alternatives. Reactances can occur when someone is heavily pressured to creative cloud alternatives a certain view or attitude. Reactance can cause the person to adopt or strengthen a view or attitude that is contrary to what was intended, and also increases resistance to persuasion.
Psychological reactance occurs in response to threats to perceived behavioral freedoms. There are four important elements to reactance theory: perceived freedom, threat to freedom, reactance, and restoration of freedom. Freedom is not an abstract consideration, but rather a feeling associated with real behaviors, including actions, emotions, and attitudes. Reactance also explains denial as it is encountered in addiction counselling. Reactance theory assumes there are «free behaviors» individuals perceive and can take part in at any given moment.
For a behavior to be free, the individual must have the relevant physical and psychological abilities to partake in it, and must know they can engage in it at the moment, or in the near future. When certain free behaviors are threatened or removed, the more important a free behavior is to a certain individual the greater the magnitude of the reactance. The level of reactance has a direct relationship to the importance of the eliminated or threatened behavioral freedom, in relationship to the importance of other freedoms at the time. With a given set of free behaviors, the greater the proportion threatened or eliminated, the greater will be the total level of reactance. When an important free behavior has been threatened with elimination, the greater will be the threat, and the greater will be the level of reactance. When there is a loss of a single free behavior, there may be by implication a related threat of removal of other free behaviors now or in the future.
Other core concepts of the theory are justification and legitimacy. A possible effect of justification is a limitation of the threat to a specific behavior or set of behaviors. For example, if Mr Doe states that he is interfering with Mrs. In the phenomenology of reactance, there is no assumption that a person will be aware of reactance.
When a person becomes aware of reactance, they will feel a higher level of self-direction in relationship to their own behavior. In other words, they will feel that if they are able to do what they want, then they do not have to do what they do not want. When considering the direct re-establishment of freedom, the greater the magnitude of reactance, the more the individual will try to re-establish the freedom that has been lost or threatened. When a freedom is threatened by a social pressure, then reactance will lead a person to resist that pressure. Freedom can and may be reestablished by a social implication. When an individual has lost a free behavior because of a social threat, then the participation in a free-like behavior by a similar person will allow one to re-establish one’s own freedom. In summary, the definition of psychological reactance is a motivational state that is aimed at re-establishment of a threatened or eliminated freedom.
A short explanation of the concept is that the level of reactance has a direct relationship between the importance of a freedom which is eliminated or threatened, and a proportion of free behaviors eliminated or threatened. Brehm’s 1981 study «Psychological reactance and the attractiveness of unobtainable objects: sex differences in children’s responses to an elimination of freedom» examined the differences in sex and age in a child’s view of the attractiveness of obtained and unobtainable objects. The study reviewed how well children respond in these situations and determined if the children being observed thought the «grass was greener on the other side». In this study the results were duplicated from a previous study by Hammock and J. The male subjects wanted what they could not obtain, however the female subjects did not conform to the theory of reactance. Although their freedom to choose was taken away, it had no overall effect on them.
Silvia’s 2005 study «Deflecting reactance: The role of similarity in increasing compliance and reducing resistance» concluded that one way to increase the activity of a threatened freedom is to censor it, or provide a threatening message toward the activity. In turn a «boomerang effect» occurs, in which people choose forbidden alternatives. Miller and colleagues concluded in their 2006 study, «Identifying principal risk factors for the initiation of adolescent smoking behaviors: The significance of psychological reactance», that psychological reactance is an important indicator in adolescent smoking initiation. Shen have provided evidence that psychological reactance can be measured, in contrast to the contrary opinion of Jack Brehm, who developed the theory. They formed several conclusions about reactance. Also, in support of previous research, they conclude reactance is in part related to an anger response. Dillard and Shen’s research indicates reactance can effectively be studied using established self-report methods.
Furthermore, it provided a better understanding of reactance theory and its relationship to persuasive health communication. Miller and colleagues conducted their 2007 study Psychological reactance and promotional health messages: the effects of controlling language, lexical concreteness, and the restoration of freedom at the University of Oklahoma, with the primary goal being to measure the effects of controlling language in promotional health messages. Streisand effect, the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. Psychological Reactance: A Theory of Freedom and Control. Motivational Enhancement Therapy: Description of Counseling Approach. Approaches to Drug Abuse Counseling, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2000, pp.
Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behavior. Psychological reactance and the attractiveness of unobtainable objects: Sex differences in children’s responses to an elimination of freedom. Deflecting reactance: The role of similarity in increasing compliance and reducing resistance. Identifying principal risk factors for the initiation of adolescent smoking behaviors: The significance of psychological reactance. On the nature of reactance and its role in persuasive health communication. Psychological reactance and promotional health messages: The effects of controlling language, lexical concreteness, and the restoration of freedom. This page was last edited on 1 April 2018, at 20:27.