Nonconscious Relationship Reactance: When Significant Others Prime Opposing Goals

Relationship partners can automatically influence goal pursuits (Fitzsimons & Bargh, 2003; Shah, 2003). Here, we demonstrate conditions under which individuals nonconsciously and automatically reject goals they associate with relationship partners and pursue opposing goals. In Experiment 1, participants were subliminally primed with the name of a controlling significant other who either wanted them to have fun or work hard. Without awareness or intent, participants pursued a goal that directly opposed their significant other’s wishes. Experiment 2 demonstrated that chronic reactance moderates behavioral responses to significant other primes. Low-reactant individuals adopted significant others’ goals, whereas high-reactant individuals pursued opposing goals.


Amy Dalton and Tanya Chartrand (2007) ,"Nonconscious Relationship Reactance: When Significant Others Prime Opposing Goals", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 156-160.


Amy Dalton, Duke University, USA
Tanya Chartrand, Duke University, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34 | 2007

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