The effect of implied threats to behavioural freedoms on the arousal of psychological reactance

Eyres, Stephen Andrew (1974) The effect of implied threats to behavioural freedoms on the arousal of psychological reactance. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Two experiments employing the Sensenig and Brehm (1968) paradigm assessed the effects of implied threats to behavioural freedom on the arousal of psychological reactance. The first experiment assessed implied threat effects, and also the interactive effects of overt threat in the form of variations on aspects of communication style. The principal analysis failed to support the Sensenig and Brehm (1968) notion that (a) there should be attitude change away from a threatening communication, and (b) that the magnitude of change should be a function of the number of behavioural freedoms threatened by implication. A moderate degree of attitude change away from the communication was observed in all conditions, but the threat manipulations did not differentiate among the magnitudes of change. A post hoc analysis showed High Overt Threat Males to react to a greater degree than Low Overt Threat Males. This finding was attributed to differential perceptions of likelihood of future solicitations of opinion by the confederate, in that Low Overt Threat Males were found to perceive a greater likelihood of solicitation of opinion than High Overt Threat Males. This correlation was consistent with the expectations of reactance theory. Implied threat was also observed to affect subjects' perceptions of a confederate's competence. Implied Threat Level Five subjects were observed to regard the confederate as being less competent than Implied Threat Level One subjects. It was suggested that this finding may be a manifestation of reactance in the form of derogation of a threatening agent. -- The second experiment, designed as a partial replication of Sensenig and Brehm's CL968) experiment, replaced their positive-influence control with a no-treatment control. The data did not support their notion of a differential attitude change away from a threatening communication, but were not totally inconsistent with reactance theory. Whereas threat to one behavioural freedom elicited a reliable conformity response, implication of threat to future such freedoms was observed to diminish the conformity response to the point where it could not be separated from test-retest variability. Both experiments were observed to support Grabitz-Gniech's Q971) findings concerning central tendency effects. In both experiments, no-treatment control subjects showed some degree of attitude change away from the opinion they had earlier advocated. This finding emphasizes the need for careful consideration of the reactance phenomenon in the design of appropriate controls for future experiments.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1475
Item ID: 1475
Additional Information: Bibliography : leaves 29-40
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 1974
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Free will and determinism

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