Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology: Clinical

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Amani El-Alayli

Second Advisor

Kayleen Islam-Zwart

Third Advisor

Doris Munson

Abstract

"Psychological reactance is a motivational state caused by a perceived threat to an individual's freedom to behave as he or she chooses. In this state individuals are motivated to restore the perception of freedom. Past research on reactance has suggested that it is possible that repeatedly experiencing a reactive state may contribute to increasing trait reactance, which is the individual's general tendency to experience reactance in a given situation. Research on discrimination has suggested that experiencing discrimination may induce a reactive state, but has not empirically tested that idea. Study 1 hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between the amount of discrimination perceived by an individual and the individual's level of trait reactance. Study 2 hypothesized that participants asked to recall a discriminatory event would experience more state reactance than those in the control condition. Study 1's hypothesis was supported by correlations between the Perceived Discrimination Scale (Dowd, Milne, &Wise, 1991), the Therapeutic Reactance Scale, the Hong Psychological Reactance Scale (Hong, 1992) and the majority of the Hong subscales. A subjective measure of discrimination experienced due to group membership was also correlated with the same reactance scales. Study 2's hypothesis was also supported when participants asked to recall a discriminatory incident scored significantly higher on cognitive and emotional measures designed to assess state reactance. Together the findings of both studies suggest that experiencing state reactance repeatedly throughout an individual's life leads to an increase in that individual's level of trait reactance. If trait reactance is a result of discriminatory experiences then, such information could help inform the therapeutic treatment of clients likely to have experienced discrimination"--Document.

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