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Am J Psychol. 2007 Spring;120(1):15-24.

Psychological reactance: examination across age, ethnicity, and gender.

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  • 1Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Rogers State University, Claremore, OK 74017-3252, USA.


Psychological reactance is a motivational state aroused when real or perceived personal freedoms are threatened, reduced, or eliminated. Although psychological reactance theory has existed for almost 40 years, there is still dissent over some of its most basic characteristics. Research on age and ethnicity is scant, and research on gender has not produced a clear pattern of results. We attempted to clarify the relationships of these variables to psychological reactance. A total of 3,499 undergraduates completed the Therapeutic Reactance Scale and a brief demographic questionnaire. We found a curvilinear relationship between age and reactance, with older and younger participants exhibiting higher reactance than the middle age group. African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics exhibited higher total, behavioral, and verbal reactance than Caucasians and Native Americans. Men produced higher total, behavioral, and verbal reactance scores than women. We discuss the implications of these findings and make suggestions for further research.

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