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REACTANCE THEORY. A common tendency in human behavior is to react against any attempted restrictions imposed on the individual. The term psychological reactance is defined as the motivational state aroused when a person perceives that a specific behav ioral freedom is threatened with elimination or is actually eliminated. Reactance theory (via Jack W. Brehm and Sharon S. Brehm) holds that under such conditions of threats to personal freedom, oppositional behaviors may be understood as manifestations of a single motivational state and includes the assumption that when reactance motivation is aroused, the person makes attempts to restore the threatened or eliminated freedom. Reactance theory makes two predictions: because the desirability of an object or event is assumed to be related to the opportunity to choose it, the more the person perceives that others are attempting to limit one's opportunities, the more attractive the object or event becomes; and when a person perceives that strong pressure is being exerted to force a particular decision, the person will tend to become contrary and resist the pressure by selecting an opposing perspective. Reactance theory maintains that individuals possess a finite number of specific behavioral freedoms (i.e., certain behaviors - including emotions, attitudes, beliefs, and overt acts -are "free" if the person is currently engaging in them, or expects to engage in them in the future). The theory does not assume any need or desire for freedom per se but allows for a wide variation in individual differences concerning "free" behaviors. In general, the more important the freedom is to the person, the greater the magnitude of the threat; and the greater the number of freedoms threatened, the greater will be the reactance aroused. An example of a reactance situation is the desire of a girl to marry a boyfriend in spite of parental opposition (cf., the Romeo and Juliet effect - named after the main characters in William Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" produced between 1591 and 1596 - re-fers to a tendency, when restrictions by others such as parents are placed on a couple or set of people such as young lovers, to increase ones' desires to be together). In this example, according to reactance theory, the girl will attempt to restore the threatened freedom (of marrying the person whom she chooses). In such cases, two "counterforces" serve to influence restorative action: as the magnitude of pressure to comply increases, both reactance arousal and the motive to comply (by relinquishing the freedom) will increase, and if the costs of direct restora tive action are sufficiently high, direct opposition may be prevented. Thus, compliance motives counteract or influence reactance arousal to determine the resulting behavioral tendency. How much one desires to restore freedom, as well as how strongly the individual actually attempts to do so, reflects the interplay between compliance and reactance forces. Costs of direct opposition, on the other hand, should act mainly as a suppressor of overt action and, given a chance to restore freedom without incurring unreasonably high costs, the person is predicted to act accordingly. Research on reactance theory shows considerable empirical support for the theory, which has been applied to a wide variety of psychological issues, problems, and situations. See also ATTITUDE/ATTITUDE CHANGE, THEORIES OF; ATTRIBUTION THEORY; BOOMERANG EFFECT; COMPLIANCE EFFECTS/TECHNIQUES. REFERENCES

Brehm, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. New York: Academic Press.

Brehm, S. S., & Brehm, J. W. (1981). Psychological reactance: A theory of freedom and control. New York: Academic Press.

REACTION-TIME PARADIGMS/MODELS. The phenomenon of reaction-time (RT) originated in the discipline of astronomy in the late 18th century by way of the concept of the personal equation; i.e., individual differences were observed in the ability of astronomers to note the precise time at which a star crossed the transit point when observed through a telescope. Such individual observer differences were called the personal equation and stimulated studies of RT in the field of experimental psychology. Such discrepancies were significant, also, in the later development of "mental chronometry" - the measurement of the time required to carry out different mental processes/activities. In the context of experimental psychology, RT is defined as the minimum time between the presentation of a stimulus and the participant's response to it. RT is one of experimental psychology's oldest paradigms or dependent variables, and several types of RT have been studied: simple RT is the minimum time-lag between a single stimulus and the participant's making of a single simple response; choice RT is an extension of simple RT in which the person is presented with two, or more, stimuli and two, or more, corresponding responses; discrimination RT is a variation of choice RT in which there are two distinctive stimuli and the person is asked to respond to but one of them and refrain from making a response to the other; complex (or compound) RT is any RT where two, or more, stimuli and/or two, or more, responses are employed (i.e., all possible variations other than the simple RT); and disjunctive RT refers to an umbrella term that includes the choice, complex, and discrimination RT paradigms. Other usages of RT are: associative RT (the time in word association tests/experiments between the presentation of the stimulus word and the person's verbal response); cognitive RT (the interval between stimulus recognition and response); motor preparation RT (the readiness of the participant to make a particular movement as a response in a RT experiment); sensory preparation RT (the readiness of the person to receive a particular stimulus in a RT experiment); motor reaction type (persons whose behavior is characterized by a set to respond as quickly as possible with attention to the movement); and sensory reaction type (persons whose behavior is characterized by a set to apprehend the incoming stimuli). See also HICK'S LAW; PERSONAL EQUATION PHENOMENON; PIERON'S LAW; SIMON EFFECT; TIME, THEORIES OF.

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