Money-primed reactance does not help ensure autonomy

Yu Shi1, Zeng Xianglong1, Chenyue Wang2, Henry Chen1, Liu Xiangping1
1School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, People’s Republic of China
2Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Shi, Y., Xianglong, Z., Wang, C., Chen, H., & Xiangping, L. (2013). Money-primed reactance does not help ensure autonomy. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 41, 1233-1244.

Volume 41 Issue 8 | e3227 | Published: September 2013 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2013.41.8.1233

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In a recent study Liu, Smeesters, and Vohs (2011) found that money primes reactance, as defined by oppositional behavior. This reactance does not necessarily imply autonomy, or the reflective endorsement of one’s actions. We posited, however, that by protecting personal choice from social influence money-primed reactance may help ensure autonomy under conditions of strong social pressure. To test this, we adapted Asch’s (1956) conformity setup. We found that although money-primed reactance in control trials in which the majority provided correct responses, this effect vanished in critical trials in which the majority provided incorrect answers. These results suggest that the reactance primed by money does not help maintain autonomy under strong social pressure but may only be a compensatory behavior that reflects a heightened need for autonomy.
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