Psychological reactance: what is it and what are its effects?

Have you ever wondered why some people use reverse psychology to convince others?

The answer is in reactance, A curious psychological phenomenon that leads us to make decisions in an irrational way.

What is reactance in psychology?

Reactance is a psychological phenomenon linked to motivation and heuristics, that is to say to mental shortcuts by which we make decisions without going through a phase of reflection based on logic.

More precisely, the reactance is a tendency to reject rules or guidelines coming from others and which are perceived as a limitation of personal freedom. In short, it is an emotional reaction to real or apparent impositions.

Moreover, reactance is not only a phenomenon which belongs to individuals, but can manifest itself collectively; for example, in the face of political or economic events.

    The concept of heuristics

    Reactance is not as rational as it is emotionalAs it is a response to a perception of change, rather than relying on a logical analysis of the present and the best options that can be taken in this situation.

    This is because so much of the decisions and actions we take are not so much based on rational reasoning as on emotions.

      The characteristics of psychological reactance

      Here are some of the characteristics and psychological effects of this phenomenon.

      1. This gives rise to manipulation

      Psychological reactance can be predicted by people who have a special interest in convincing someone. This helps to present an undesirable option in which there are apparent rules and to make the other option, the one that you really want to “sell” to the other, more attractive in comparison.

      2. It makes psychological experimentation difficult

      There is a kind of psychological reactance called the Hawthorne effect which makes it difficult to carry out experiments or research based on the observation of human beings.

      Indeed, people who volunteer to be observed in this type of study, knowing that they are being observed, stop acting naturally and spontaneously simply because they reflect on predictions and guidelines with what about what. researchers who observe work.

      Somehow they react to being observed and “disobey” the premise of acting naturally, causing them to act in a way that is not representative of their usual way. to feel, think or behave.

      3. The more important the element, the greater the reaction.

      If the option that is threatened by the rules is highly valued, The emotional reaction will be larger and more violent or disruptive.

      4. The higher the imposition, the greater the reactance.

      It has been proven that in case of reactance, this can occur even when the behavior is limited or “forbidden”. it wasn’t even overrated before. The greater the feeling that there is something threatening one’s own freedom, the greater the reaction against this imposition.

      5. The expectation of freedom

      People less used to playing by the rules they tend to have a higher level of reactance because their expectations for their level of freedom are higher.

      6. A key role in reverse psychology

      Reactance is also taken into account by people who use reverse psychology to influence on the behavior of others. This strategy involves taking advantage of the type of emotional thinking that occurs during reactance to prevent someone from making a rational decision.

      In this way, a perfectly acceptable and even desirable option is presented as a sort of apparent imposition, which makes the interlocutors or the audience feel inclined to the opposite option.

      This phenomenon is commonly used both in the treatment of disobedient children and in political argument and propaganda.

      7. The vision we have of other influences

      Reactance is particularly strong when the patterns to be adapted to come from someone or something (such as an institution). which is not perceived as legitimate. For example, if a number of measures taken by a government are perceived as illegitimate, the reactions against these new laws will be stronger.

      8. It depends on the number of freedoms threatened

      This phenomenon depends not only on the intensity of the perceived taxation, but also on the the amount of freedoms that are compromised. So, a rule that affects the ability to buy products and at the same time the number of options to choose from when making purchases will be considered greater imposition and reactance will be greater.

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