ReactanceOpen Access

Reactance

We’ll do the opposite from what we’re asked if we’re pushed too hard

Persuasion is a delicate art. If we feel that our freedoms are being restricted, we’ll become aggressively motivated to regain them.

Zemack‐Rugar, Moore & Fitzsimons (2017). Just do it! Why committed consumers react negatively to assertive ads. Journal of Consumer Psychology.

The study

Setup

84 people were shown an ad for a known clothing brand that they either had an existing loyalty to or not, written either assertively or not. Based upon the ad, they were then asked how much from a $25 gift card they'd spend.

Results

People spent less money after viewing an assertive ad next to a non-assertive ad, especially when loyal.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Don’t misuse behavioural principles.

We've seen a rising use of faux-scarcity to create an uneasy sense of urgency as well as an aggressive use of Defaults that aren't in customers' best interests. Such applications turn positive activities, like booking a holiday into ones riddled with stress.

Takeaway image

Give some control (Miller et al., 2007).

Having a feeling of choice can reduce feelings that our freedoms are being taken away. Mix Autonomy with Certainty by reminding of the inevitability ahead while granting other areas where you can give back control in meaningful ways.

Takeaway image

Give lots of warning up-front

If you're planning a big change that will clearly trigger reactance (Richards and Banas, 2015), giving time for the news to sink in, let people familiarise themselves with the new, uncomfortable normal will then reduce reactance when the change does come about.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
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Reactance

Reactance

We’ll do the opposite from what we’re asked if we’re pushed too hard

Persuasion is a delicate art. If we feel that our freedoms are being restricted, we’ll become aggressively motivated to regain them.

The study

Setup

84 people were shown an ad for a known clothing brand that they either had an existing loyalty to or not, written either assertively or not. Based upon the ad, they were then asked how much from a $25 gift card they'd spend.

Results

People spent less money after viewing an assertive ad next to a non-assertive ad, especially when loyal.

study graph
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Open access, foundational Nuggets

Scarcity

Scarcity

We value things more when they’re in limited supply

Social Proof

Social Proof

We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory

A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

Default Effect

Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

Dynamic Norms

We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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