The current work explored the relations among reactance, regret, and behavioral choice. A possible mechanism for reactance in opposition to persuasion attempts involves people anticipating greater regret for negative outcomes after complying with an agent of persuasion than for negative outcomes after reacting against an agent of persuasion. Some participants were asked to anticipate regret prior to making a behavioral choice in the face of an influence attempt. These participants anticipated greater regret for negative outcomes that would be experienced after reacting against rather than complying with the influence attempt. Accordingly, these participants subsequently exhibited behavioral compliance. On the other hand, participants who made choices without explicitly being asked to anticipate possible future regret showed far greater reactance. Interestingly, in all cases compliance led to significantly greater regret than did reactance once a negative outcome actually occurred. These data indicate that people do not spontaneously anticipate the regret that they may experience in an influence situation. Furthermore, when asked to anticipate such regret, they misanticipate their future feelings. The implications of complying with and reacting against the demands of others are discussed.
Crawford, M. T., McConnell, A. R., Lewis, A. C., & Sherman, S. J. (2002). Reactance, compliance, and anticipated regret. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38(1), 56-63.