Reactance Proneness Assessment

Reactance Proneness Assessment

L. Shen (University of Georgia, USA) and J. Dillard (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-792-8.ch043
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Abstract

The theory of psychological reactance (Brehm, 1966; Brehm & Brehm, 1981; Wicklund, 1974) has often been called upon to explain the failure of persuasive attempts, and/or the “boomerang effect” in persuasion (Buller, Borland, & Burgoon, 1998; Burgoon, Alvaro, Grandpre, & Voulodakis, 2002; Grandpre, Alvaro, Burgoon, Miller, & Hall, 2003; Ringold, 2002). The theory contends that any persuasive message may arouse a motivation to reject the advocacy. That motivation is called reactance. Reactance may be considered to be an aversive motivational state that functions to reinstate an individual’s perceptions of autonomy. Although initially investigated as a state phenomenon, it has become evident that individuals are likely to vary in their trait propensity to experience reactance. Individual differences in reactance proneness offer a useful means of segmenting target audiences, especially in the context of health communication, because individuals most at risk for various health threats are also the individuals most likely to experience reactance when exposed to persuasive messages about that health risk (e.g., Bensley & Wu, 1991).

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