Generaleneral Psychologysychology

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Several Examples of Reactance Research

According to Brehm's (1981) reactance theory, whenever a free choice is limited or threatened, the need to retain our freedoms makes us want the thing we are deprived of even more.

Brehm and Weintraub

Brehm and Weintraub (1977) exposed 24 month-old children to two equally attractive toys. The toys were separated by a plexiglass barrier. For one group of children the barrier was so short that they could easily reach over it. For a second group, the barrier was too high to reach over. To get the toy thay would have to walk around the barrier. The researchers wanted to see how quickly the boys would make contact with the toys under these conditions. The toddlers showed no preference for the toys if the barrier was short. However, most children went directly to the more distant toy if the barrier was high.

Worchel, Arnold, and Baker

Worchel, Arnold, and Baker (1975) examined the attitudes of University of North Carolina students before and after a speech favoring coed dorms was banned. They found that support for coed dorms increased after the speech was banned.

Zellinger, Fromkin, Speller, and Kohn

Zellinger, Fromkin, Speller, and Kohn (1974) showed undergraduates advertisements for a novel. For half the students, the ad contained the phrase "a book for adults only, restricted to those 21 and over." The remaining students read the same ad except this phrase was omitted. Those who read the restriction wanted to read the book more and believed that they would like the book more than students who felt access to the book was unlimited. Other studies (e.g., Ashmore, Ramchandra, & Jones, 1971; Wicklund & Brehm, 1974; Worchel, Arnold, & Baker, 1975) also find that censorship increases our desire for the censored material.

Driscoll, Davis, and Lipetz

Driscoll, Davis, and Lipetz (1972) interviewed 140 Colorado couples. Couples experiencing a high degree of parental interference expressed a greater love for one another and were more seriously considering marriage. This has been called the "Romeo and Julliet" effect.
 
 
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