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Abstract

The purpose of the present experiment was to show that the occurrence of psychological reactance is diminished when a person a) estimates the freedom eliminating source of social influence as highly attractive, and b) shows strong need for social approval and that c) psychological reactance might be stored up when the actual freedom eliminating social influence is too strong. In an experiment with 3 phases female students served as Ss. Two partners (S and stooge) had to decide whether or not to answer an item from a set of everyday questions with two choice alternatives. In the case of a positive decision they had to give their judgments covertly. In the first phase the S decided whether to answer or not; then the stooge urged the S not to answer a special set of questions. In the second phase the stooge announced her decision whether to answer a question or not and she left out the ‘crucial’ items. In the third phase the S answered the items alone since the stooge left the room for a short time having good reasons. The independent variables were interpersonal attraction: high vs. low (manipulated by instruction) and social desirability: high vs. low (measured by median split-half of the scores of a German version of the Marlowe-Crowne-scale). Reactance was measured as the number of answers to the crucial items in phase 3 in relation to the previous phases. The delay effect of psychological reactance was tested by a comparison of answers in phase 2 and 3. The data lent support to the first (attraction) and third (delay) experimental hypotheses stated.