Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why Husbands Don't Listen to Wives

Husband and wife researchers at Duke provide insight into why spouses don't listen to each other, and in fact might choose the opposite of what their partner wishes. If a person scored high on trait reactance (likelihood of resisting influence), even subliminal priming of the wishes of their partner resulted in opposing effects. So the influence on actions is not conscious.

In their study, Chartrand and Fitzsimons found that high reactance individuals worked hardest when primed with a message from their partner that told them to "relax". When primed with the opposite ("work hard"), they relaxed and did little work. It's interesting that the effect was present even subliminally. One wonders about other relationships - parent-child, teacher-student, boss-employee.

Queried about the results, Dr. Tanya Chartrand commented, "My husband, while very charming in many ways, has an annoying tendency of doing exactly the opposite of what I would like him to do in many situations,” she mused that perhaps now he “should now be better equipped to suppress his reactant tendencies.” Fitzsimons, on the other hand, demurred, explaining that “reactance to significant others is so automatic that I can’t possibly be expected to control it if I don’t even know it’s happening.”

Maybe there's something to this.

Have a great President's Weekend. We'll be back blogging Tuesday Feb 20th.

Non-conscious Relationship Reactance pdf
Psychology News Blog
Reactance at Wikipedia

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