Nonconscious relationship reactance: When significant others prime opposing goals


Journal Article

Individuals nonconsciously and unintentionally pursue goals they associate with relationship partners (Fitzsimons & Bargh, 2003; Shah, 2003). Here, we demonstrate conditions under which individuals nonconsciously and unintentionally reject goals they associate with relationship partners and instead pursue opposing goals. In Experiment 1, participants were subliminally primed with the name of a controlling significant other who had a particular goal for them. Without awareness or intent, participants pursued a goal that directly opposed their significant other's wishes. In Experiment 2, chronic reactance was shown to moderate this effect: Low-reactant individuals adopted a subliminally primed significant other's goal, whereas high-reactant individuals pursued an opposing goal. This research suggests that in response to controlling significant others and among chronically reactant individuals, the nonconscious activation of relational representations can automatically elicit oppositional goal pursuits, even when pursuit of an oppositional goal results in a personally suboptimal outcome. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chartrand, TL; Dalton, AN; Fitzsimons, GJ

Published Date

  • September 1, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 43 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 719 - 726

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0465

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1031

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jesp.2006.08.003

Citation Source

  • Scopus