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February 14, 2007

More Science: Men Resist Nagging Because They Don't Like Being Nagged

Wow! Now this is what I call science!

New research findings now appearing online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology began with a professor's desire to understand why her husband often seemed to ignore her requests for help around the house.

"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," said Tanya L. Chartrand, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.


Working with Duke Ph.D. student Amy Dalton, Chartrand and Fitzsimons have demonstrated that some people will act in ways that are not to their own benefit simply because they wish to avoid doing what other people want them to. Psychologists call this reactance: a person's tendency to resist social influences that they perceive as threats to their autonomy.

The team found that people do not necessarily oppose others' wishes intentionally. Instead, even the slightest nonconscious exposure to the name of a significant person in their life is enough to bring about reactance and cause them to rebel against that person's wishes.

Pretty obvious, but they did some experiments suggesting the obvious is actually the truth, which is, I guess, part of science's job.

Although the tests seem kind of dopey. Involving flashing the name of a nagger, subliminally, as subjects are asked to do various tasks.

The end of the story is pretty funny -- the woman takes it as evidence her husband needs to work on his knee-jerk domestic rebellions, while the husband takes it a confirmation that he just can't help his adverse reaction to being nagged.

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posted by Ace at 05:36 PM

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