Money-primed reactance does not help ensure autonomy
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In a recent study Liu, Smeesters, and Vohs (2011) found that money primes reactance, as defined by oppositional behavior. This reactance does not necessarily imply autonomy, or the reflective endorsement of one’s actions. We posited, however, that by protecting personal choice from social influence money-primed reactance may help ensure autonomy under conditions of strong social pressure. To test this, we adapted Asch’s (1956) conformity setup. We found that although money-primed reactance in control trials in which the majority provided correct responses, this effect vanished in critical trials in which the majority provided incorrect answers. These results suggest that the reactance primed by money does not help maintain autonomy under strong social pressure but may only be a compensatory behavior that reflects a heightened need for autonomy.